The developers of the Lockheed Martin property unveiled their plans for a 510,000-square-foot retail complex in front of an alternately warm and cold audience on Wednesday night.
CSM purchased the 47-acre parcel in downtown Eagan following Lockheed Martin's announcement in 2010 that it plans to close its sprawling facility and move many of the jobs at the site to New York and California.
The developers plan to begin construction on the proposed complex in April 2013—one month after Lockheed moves out of the facility, and open the retail center in the fall of 2014. The company's proposal has yet to be approved by the Eagan City Council, but CSM officials said Wednesday that they will likely submit their plans next week for the city to review. The project may go before the council as early as May, Eagan Community Development Director Jon Hohenstein said.
CSM plans to house as many as 40 tenants at the proposed complex—including a mix of larger department store-sized buildings and smaller shops. The single largest building on the site is a proposed, 138,000-square-foot building planned for the west side of the property.
The shopping center plans call for heavy pedestrian access and will feature several small plazas or park-like areas scattered throughout the development. Buildings will be constructed with rustic-looking material and native plants and grasses seeded in the area, developers said. CSM Vice President of Commercial Development Tom Palmquist said the company is also working with the city and public transit authorities to have shuttles run from the adjacent Minnesota Valley Transit Authority station to the site.
Although Palmquist declined to name any of the potential tenants interested in the site, CSM officials said that a national sports retailer and an upscale grocery store are among the interested parties. Interest in the site among prospective retailers is "strong," Palmquist said after the meeting.
Many audience members were receptive to the plans; one audience member said she was pleased CSM wasn't planning "some nasty old strip mall."
Others, including Lockheed Martin employee David Senechal, were skeptical.
"You have a $100 million building sitting there that’s in quite good shape, and to just tear it down and bring in retail doesn’t make any sense,” Senechal said, referring to the existing Lockheed Martin facility. Senechal wondered aloud why the city couldn't convert the building for use as a data center for Five 9s Digital—which plans to build a 138,000-square foot center in Eagan.
Because of its proximity to the Mall of America, Eagan doesn't need more retail, Senechal said. Any retail jobs brought to the city as a result of the proposed project would likely be part-time or lower-paying positions, he added.
"The country is suffering a lot becase we don’t build as much or design as much here ... and when you have more consumers than producers, you become more dependent,” Senechal said.
Palmquist said CSM's proposal was a "market-driven solution." The company looked at building office space on the site, but decided it idea wasn't feasible because of the poor commercial real estate market for office space, Palmquist added.
“I think there are opportunities for those head-of-household jobs to come back into the community," Palmquist said. "We’re basically solving a problem for a site where those jobs have left."
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