CSM Corporation, the developer behind a proposed 510,000-square-foot retail complex on the Lockheed Martin site in Eagan, says its plans for the project are in a holding pattern until Dakota County completes a nearby road corridor study.
But that hasn't stopped the Eagan City Council, which last week commissioned a roughly $15,000 study of the 47-acre property that city officials say will help identify the city's vision and expectations for the land.
The council unanimously voted to hire Minneapolis-based Hoisington Koegler Group Inc. to conduct the study following CSM's decision to withdraw its development application for the property.
CSM Vice President and General Counsel Michelle Culligan said the company couldn't move forward with the Lockheed Martin project until it knew the outcome of the Pilot Knob Road Corridor Study currently underway in Eagan.
County officials hope the corridor study will help identify improvements to reduce congestion on an accident-prone, congested stretch of Pilot Knob from Yankee Doodle Road to Central Parkway.
But the study also has the potential to impact traffic entrances and exits and overall layout of CSM's proposed retail center, Culligan said. While the company is still committed to developing a retail plan for the site, it will likely have to make adjustments to its original plan pending the outcome of the corridor study, Culligan said.
CSM's decision to withdraw its plans for the site mean the company will have to start back at the beginning of the development process. Earlier this year, the company submitted its plans to the Eagan Advisory Planning Commission, and held a number of community meetings for residents.
It's a step the company will likely have to repeat, according to Eagan Community Development Director Jon Hohenstein.
Culligan said CSM is "very close" to resubmitting a modified site plan to the planning commission, but that the timeline for submission would ultimately be determined by the completion of the corridor study.
The city's choice to hire a firm to conduct the visioning study seemed to surprise CSM representative Peter Coil, who appeared before the council on Tuesday. But Coil said the company didn't oppose the move.
"We were not aware that this was coming forward," Coil told the council. "I just want to reassure the city that we continue to work very hard on a development plan for the site. But not withstanding that, we think it’s an excellent idea tha the city is using this opportunity to help think through for itself what it envisions for the property, in hopes that what the developer has in mind and what the city has in mind can be reconciled."
Hohenstein says the study will allow the city to look at the site in the larger context of the Central Commons commercial area and consider some potential alternatives for development.
"I think having the city back and focusing on it, and having a third party to make sure we’re addressing everything ... I don’t think it’s ever bad to get everyone in the room and try to talk through things," Culligan said.