With Outlet Mall Development, Plans for a New City Park?

City officials hope development of a small city park in the Cedar Grove area could be a panacea for neighborhood residents and future shoppers looking for green space.

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As Baltimore-based developer Paragon Outlet Partners LLC. moves forward with its plans to construct a 400,000-square-foot outlet mall in the Cedar Grove Redevelopment Area, the city of Eagan is quietly pursuing a nearby project of its own.

Just across the street from the 35-acre site of the proposed outlet mall is a  wooded, three-acre parcel where some Eagan city officials hope to develop a small neighborhood park. 

The park is a much-needed addition to what may soon become a densely neighborhood, according to park advocate and Eagan City Councilor Paul Bakken, who has helped spearhead the park proposal in the area.

Bakken and other Eagan officials have long been planning to include a park in the redevelopment of the Cedar Grove area, and efforts to develop the green space predate Paragon's proposal for 90-100 outlet stores—a project that debuted in April.

The earliest plans called for a plaza-like park area sandwiched between multi-family residential and commercial uses on the north side of Cedar Grove Parkway. But to account for some neighborhood residents' concerns about size and location, the park proposal later evolved into a more natural, three-acre design on the south side of the parkway.

The proposed neighborhood park is a departure from the city's typical pattern of park development, according to Eagan City Administrator Tom Hedges. Ordinarily, the city seeks to build larger, centralized park facilities at least 10 acres in size.

But the city is willing to deviate from that route because of the density of development in the Cedar Grove area and the lack of immediate recreation areas. Many of the existing residential developments in the area are multi-family buildings with little open space for young families. The nearest green space, on Gold Trail, is not easily accessible for Cedar Grove residents, Bakken added.

Now, with developers planning a mall that may rival the Albertville outlet mall in sheer size, Bakken hopes a park could be a welcome respite for weary shoppers, too.

City officials have not yet drafted up formal plans for the Cedar Grove park. Nor have they decided whether the park would be a "passive" design focused on natural landscaping and low-impact uses or an "active" design with significant recreation options, Hedges said.

Development of the park, Hedges said, would likely occur simultaneously with the development of the proposed outlet mall.

“It would be a disservice of the city of Eagan to not have that be part of the redevelopment," Bakken said.

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