Letter: St. Louis Park council should reject latest Bridgewater proposal

To the Editor:

The St. Louis Park City Council will soon be asked to approve Dominion Development – Bridgewater Bank’s jointly proposed high-density, six-story, mixed-use building at Excelsior Boulevard and Monterey Drive across from Trader Joe’s.

This latest plan includes 149 apartments and 17,000 square feet of retail businesses serviced by two driveways on Monterey Drive.

The city’s consultant , SRF, notes these high-volume Bridgewater driveways would be 140 feet apart even though the Minnesota Department of Transportation recommends a minimum spacing of 330 feet in high-density, urban areas.

These closely-spaced driveways on Monterey Drive would serve up to 1,670 cars each day near Monterey Drive’s 11,000 cars per day resulting in 10-12 turning movements all within 140 feet, creating driver confusion and vehicle conflict.

The Minikahda Vista-Wolfe Park-Sorenson neighborhood coalition partners have cited well-founded concerns of hazardous transit for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists created by this high-density development.

Noting high-density concerns, city council members have rejected at least three Bridgewater proposals. Bridgewater CEO Jerry Baack criticized our council, stating “Why the council is not treating us equally is beyond me.”

This accusation is completely unfounded. Bridgewater has had six study sessions, four public meetings, two neighborhood meetings and two traffic studies. Our city staff, council and residents have worked countless hours to improve this project. Baack’s statements of unequal treatment are insulting and shortsighted.

Bridgewater’s Baack added, “If a mixed-use development does not gain approval, we have another plan to put in a multi-story office building.”

Bridgewater partner Ron Mehl of Dominion stated, “We may encourage Jerry Baack to find that office developer.” For neighbors and council members, Bridgewater’s message is clear: approve the project their way or they will build something worse!

Neighborhood coalition partners find this offensive rhetoric unacceptable. We urge our council to reject the latest poorly designed Bridgewater plan.

Dennis Morin

St. Louis Park