Eagan City Council members reaffirmed their interest in a pedestrian-friendly, attractive development with a mix of retail businesses, office space and potentially residential housing at the former Lockheed Martin property on Tuesday night.
The council heard from representatives from CSM Corporation—the developer that owns the 47-acre property in central Eagan—and a consulting firm during a two-hour, focused discussion regarding the future of the property.
CSM purchased the Lockheed Martin site in 2011 after Lockheed Martin announced it would shutter the roughly 620,000-square-foot facility by 2013. The developer proposed building a large-scale retail development on the property, but withdrew plans late last year. At that point, City officials stepped in, in December to conduct a study to determine the best future uses for the site.
Hoisington Koegler returned to the council on Tuesday, presenting a number of alternative site concepts to help council members identify priorities for the property. The proposed concepts ranged from high-intensity retail with as much as 600,000 square feet of building space and multi-level parking ramps to more walkable, pedestrian-friendly village concepts.
One alternative called for a mix of large retail outlets combined with multi-story office complexes and residential housing. In another alternative, the developer would retain the existing Lockheed Martin facility and build outlying commercial or office facilities at the perimeter of the property.
Although council members took no action regarding the property on Tuesday, Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire said he preferred a walkable, mixed use concept that was well-integrated with the surrounding community.
Councilors Cyndee Fields and Meg Tilley said it was important to avoid a "sea of asphalt" and cultivate diversity on the property by including multi-story buildings. Tilley and Maguire also supported exploring residential options on the site, and all councilors present at the meeting expressed interest in the construction of parking ramps on the site.
"We already have a lot of strip malls and parking, and I really see this as a unique destination place," Tilley said. "This I could see as being a jewel, just being a little different”
CSM is committed to developing the property, CSM Corporation Vice President of Commercial Development Tom Palmquist reaffirmed at the meeting, but he warned that any sustainable project must be market-driven.
Citing market forces, Palmquist said the company would prefer to develop a retail-focused complex on the property. The Lockheed Martin building, he added, was "functionally obsolete" and would be difficult, if not impossible, to reuse in a new development.
Building multi-level parking structures on the property, Palmquist said, would be a challenge without some sort of public subsidy.
Hoisington Koegler representative Bryan Harjes also acknowledged that a mixed use development would likely take longer to develop, because the demand for office and residential space in the Eagan area is relatively low.
"In the end, we intend to deliver a successful project here," Palmquist said. "We very strongly believe that retail reuse needs to be a predominant component of the repositioning ... that does require a substantial major anchor to provide viability for the project."