Mar 25, 2021

Watershed District In Process of Redevelopment Along Minnehaha Creek in Hopkins, Minnesota

Minnehaha Creek Watershed District officials have developed a community engagement process for restoration and redevelopment.

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Minnesota's Minnehaha Creek Watershed District officials have developed a community engagement process for the restoration and redevelopment of 325 Blake Rd., a 17-acre site off Excelsior Boulevard and Blake Road in Hopkins.

The watershed district purchased the former industrial site in 2011 as part of its restoration of Minnehaha Creek, which will occur through its most degraded and hidden stretch, according to James Wisker, executive director for the district, reported Sun Sailor.

In the spring and summer the watershed district in partnership with the city will seek community input to create a vision for the land and find a compatible development partner, reported Sun Sailor. The watershed district demolished the cold storage warehouse in 2018. In 2019, the watershed district and a potential development partner could not agree on a vision and purchase price for the future redevelopment of the site.

According to Wisker, “the district has taken some time to reflect and developed a series of lessons learned and guiding principles that we’re implementing, this time around, that we believe are positioning the district and Hopkins for collective success,” reported Sun Sailor.

Other efforts over the last 10 years have been used to improve the watershed, including partnering with the Methodist Hospital just down from the stretch of the creek in St. Louis Park. The hospital had been previously exposed to significant flood risks that affected hospital operation, according to Sun Sailor.

1,000 feet of the creek and 15 acres of wetland were restored, creating new storm water and flood storage. This ultimately allowed the hospital to expand and also permanently separate itself from the FEMA floodplain.

The restoration effort will use 4 to 6 acres of the site to improve and create access to Minnehaha Creek. The rest of the land will be a mixed-use transit-oriented development. The goal is to obtain affordable housing in the development but the details will not be determined until a development partner is selected and the project can move forward, reported Sun Sailor. 

Natural features to clean runoff from about 270 acres around the site will be used to improve water quality. The restoration effort is part of the Minnehaha Creek Greenway.

The watershed district is seeking public input through a community survey as well as a virtual community listening session set for Mar. 31. Visit minnehahacreek.org/project/325 for more information.

A public meeting on restoration design and a private development partner will also be hosted summer 2021.

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