Farmington City Council approved a new vision for redevelopment along the Highway 3 Corridor during its June 3 meeting.
In early 2018, City Council authorized an application to apply for a Dakota County Community Development Agency redevelopment incentive grant that became the Highway 3 Corridor Plan.
The plan offers a gateway into downtown.
"It has been a long time in the making to get to where we are today," said Adam Kienberger, Farmington community development director.
In the last seven months, the city has hosted meetings and gathered residents' feedback.
The city received the maximum grant award and funded match requirements with a block grant and general fund dollars. City Council approved a professional services agreement with WSB on Oct. 1, 2018 to assist with the development of a small area plan for the Trunk Highway 3 Corridor.
The project team presented initial findings at a joint meeting with council, the Economic Development Authority and the Farmington Planning Commission on April 8. Feedback gathered was incorporated into a working draft that was presented at an April 16 open house with more than 30 people in attendance.
The EDA and Planning Commission reviewed the draft plan at a joint meeting May 23 and the group recommended forwarded the plan to the city for adoption.
Eric Maass with WSB gave a summary for City Council as he reviewed various plan components after the Farmington EDA unanimously recommended the redevelopment plan.
The action steps were corridor assessment, visioning, goals and strategies, regulation review, market study and implementation.
Besides the 30 residents who attended a city open house, Maass said, "We also offered some one-on-one property meetings with properties that were scheduled to be rezoned specifically to provide them opportunities if they did not want to come to a formal meeting like this."
"We are not going to annex property and I want to make sure everyone is clear on that," Farmington Mayor Todd Larson said.
Smaller redevelopment efforts and projects in recent years have taken place without a unified vision or direction for the corridor as a whole, Maass said. The plan provides an overall vision to guide future reinvestment in the corridor.
Partners in action
"We have often heard there are a lot of access points onto Highway 3, and this plan would result in the reduction of car accidents off Trunk Highway 3 with a new access off 209th Street that would be in line with the access point to Tamarack Shopping Center," Maass said. "People have concerns with speed but since it is a MnDOT road, the city can't control the speed, but we can control the experience and land use and what that is like for the driver."
"It was made clear early on the intent of the Highway 3 Corridor plan was not to compete with downtown Farmington, but to rather compliment the downtown," Maass added.
This Highway 3 Plan will be weaved into the city's bike and pedestrian plan that is now being worked on by city staff.
The city will work in partnership with Dakota County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation to address the traffic and roadway upgrades in future years along the highway. The plan will become part of the updated 2040 Comprehensive Plan that is now being completed by city staff and is due by the end of June.
Three future redevelopment sites
Three areas in the Highway 3 Corridor project boundary will become future redevelopment opportunity sites.
Massing studies were completed for each site area depicting buildings on the sites based on current zoning and code requirements like height limitations and setbacks.
Eric Maass with WSB reported on a summary for Farmington City Council and reviewed components of the plan. Maass noted future development projects would need to go through and be approved through a formal entitlement process.
The first area is on 209th Street, currently occupied by Napa Auto Parts, Carbone's Pizzeria, Big Man Motors and a single-family townhome. Napa Auto Parts and Big Man Motors are currently located within Empire Township and future redevelopment of the site as a whole would require annexing of those properties.
The second area is located on Larch Street and is occupied by a used car dealership. This area has been the source of several concerns during the public engagement phase due to its negative appearance, Maas reported. The site is large enough for a single commercial user and can accommodate a 5,000-square-feet building. The building would be similar in size to the veterinary clinic that operates to the north.
Maass said the commercial office use would eliminate the outdoor storage at the Larch Street site that has also been the source of residential complaints.
"Redevelopment of this site would involve the removal of two existing buildings that were constructed in 1982 and consists of a single-story commercial building and a former drive-thru car wash.
The third Site 3 is Farmington Center that is two parcels of land that could be home to 6,500 square feet of commercial space that could accommodate retail and restaurant users. This plan recommends rezoning of single-family residential parcels to the north and adjacent to Maple Street to become future high-density residential.
"Together with the existing apartment complex on the north side of Site 3, a new high density residential project could be constructed to further compliment and support both the existing commercial facility but also any future commercial or office redevelopment," Maass said.
Four goals and many strategies will help for the successful implementation:
- To improve the attractiveness and visual cohesiveness of the corridor.
- To facilitate the redevelopment and support a vibrant corridor.
- Implement signage and wayfinding along the corridor that drives visitors to downtown Farmington.
- Call for evaluating opportunities for better functionality and safety for vehicle traffic and continue to plan for accessible, continuous and separated bikeways and sidewalks.