Ramsey County approval brings TCAAP construction closer

– Pioneer Press

The development plan for the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant — a 427-acre site in Arden Hills — now rests in the hands of the Metropolitan Council.

On Tuesday, the plan cleared a major hurdle Tuesday with approval from the Ramsey County Board. The Arden Hills City Council gave the plan the OK last week.

If ratified by the Met Council, construction of roads, sewers and water lines is expected to begin in 2017.

The plan, which passed the county board 6 to 1, calls for the project to include taller buildings and a slight density increase for the 427-acre site.

Developers intend to convert the once-polluted site at the junction of Interstate 35W and U.S. 10 — now known as Rice Creek Commons — into a sustainable, walkable community with three distinct neighborhoods, thousands of new jobs, retail space and a network of parks and trails.

Changes to the original plan made by the developer include an increase in the maximum height of buildings in the Town Center from six to 10 stories, along with a decrease in flexible office space, an increase in one of the development’s two residential neighborhoods and more specific zoning guidelines.

The proposed density change also increases the maximum number of units throughout the development from 1,431 units to 1,460. In the past, commissioners indicated they had hoped to see as many as 1,700 units in the development while city officials supported the lower density. “This is a huge project. … It took a lot of compromise,” Commissioner Rafael Ortega said. “We’ve got to work with the communities we’re in.”

Commissioner Janice Rettman cast the opposing vote after expressing her concern that the amended plan doesn’t spell out requirements for public transit or affordable housing. “It is not codified in there. … I was hoping that this would have that specificity,” Rettman said. “That, to me, would justify so much more the public dollars being put into this project.”

Ortega and Commissioner Toni Carter said that while affordable housing and public transit were not specified in the amended master plan, they were understood to be an important part of the development project and could be championed by the board in the future.

“(The TCAAP development) really will make a difference for all of our taxpayers, for all of our residents, and for all of our businesses, and so, for that reason, we are looking forward to seeing all of these goals enlivened over the next years,” Carter said.

By: Tory Cooney
Date: December 20, 2016
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