K-mart lot approved, for now

Last night I supported the K-Mart lot which passed 4-3. I was surprised, and frankly disappointed that the vote was that close, given the work that Mark Bilderback had done in trying to bridge the gap. For some time I have been less concerned about this that some of my peers and neighbors and see it as an incremental step. The first time this was in front of the council I was not terrible opposed to the project, but because of Mark’s concerns I certainly wanted him to have a chance to bridge the divide. If it gets vetoed, so be it, that is absolutely the right of the Mayor.

The 3 biggest picture items that drove me on this unpopular decision 1) My #1 priority is getting the transit line. 2) I want so see West lot redeveloped 3) I do want to help Mayo jobs in the Urban Core. The Kmart decision does help with these 3.

Also tip of the hat to a good voice of reason who is encourage me to say that, yes sometimes we do things to help Mayo. We probably do look silly if we say that is not part of the discussion.

I am I naive? To some extent almost certainly but I do think the Kmart decision helps with the 3 items above.

Am I in the pocket of Mayo? No, I don’t think they even like me that much. But if you think that, so be it.

Some of my thoughts in random order as I am very tired:

  • Mayo handled this so poorly that it made it much harder to say “yes.”
  • Part of this really is helping Mayo to grow. Some people hate that. When we have several plants closing; costing us hundreds of jobs, it is good that Mayo is creating hundreds of good jobs simultaneously (and yes, some bad jobs are being created as well, mostly outside of Mayo).
  • The ability to masterplan nearly 40 acres adjacent to downtown is a really cool opportunity.
  • DMC’s willingness to continue Discover Walk through Soldiers Field into the SE neighborhoods is important to me.
  • Mayo has allowed the redevelopment of hundreds of parking spaces in the downtown and helped to eliminate parking at Discovery Square 2.
  • There is nothing of value in this location, we are not tearing down anything with a future. We are replacing one undesirable use with another.
  • This agreement has milestones and penalties in it, I don’t think they matter because I think they will all be done anyway.
  • Parking lot or not there will need to be several years of work before the Kmart site is ready for redevelopment.
  • For years we are have been planning 15,000 total parking spaces along the future transit line with only 6,000 or so at the hubs.
  • The neighborhoods remained largely opposed, but many of the people that I have worked with over the years were amiable to the latest proposal.
  • I was bothered by many of the environmental claims. The impact to current air & water qualities is quite small relative to changing vehicle types, the effect of achieving the circulator.
  • The redevelopment of West lot will require a number of new spaces, this helps with that.
  • If Mark Bilderback had asked me to fight this I would have, while he didn’t support it I think he was at least at a point of acceptance.
  • I am still bitter that Javon Bea still has a surface lot across from St. Marys, so I know the council can break promises at any time. I am not naive in that way.
  • I do not currently support Phase II and likely would not until there is a solid recommendation from both Public Works and the traffic engineer and a start to changes at the West lot.
  • I want Mayo & DMC to step up in their transit collaboration.

5 comments

  1. Michael:

    I watched the 2-19-20 meeting. I get more scared when I agree with you than when I don’t. I still don’t understand the King’s Row fire code issues, but I think you are correct the city has no dog in that fight and making requirements could backfire?

    What do you mean by this bullet point? “Mayo has allowed the redevelopment of hundreds of parking spaced in the downtown and helped to eliminate parking at Discovery Square 2”??

    Why are you concerned about the parking lot Javon Bea has on 2nd Street? Do you think surface parking is the end goal for the property?

    Lastly, why would you apologize or deny favoring Mayo in council decisions?

    Thank you for your time!

    Charlie Paulson

    1. Um… Thanks… I think…

      People want surface parking lots turned into something else and Mayo is actively doing that. That is good, but it does decrease their parking too. Javon had made a promise that the parking lot would be taken out after 5 years if he didn’t redevelop. It didn’t happen.

  2. Would you be able to detail how Discovery Walk would extend into SE? A pedestrian street crossing Broadway seems, let’s go with sub-optimal, there…

    A nicer access from Slatterly Park to Soldier’s Field would be a good thing.
    Thanks

    1. So I am going to step into “Michael’s fantasy urban design land” so realize that it is just my opinion. I would see discovery walk extending from 2nd Ave SW curving through Soldiers Field, framing the UMR campus and crossing a greatly calmed Broadway at grade at a future 8 1/2 street. 8 1/2 street would actually become a future green way into Slatterly Park from Broadway to 3rd or 4th Ave SE. I do think both the Kmart owner & DMC are excited about the concept.

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