Southdale Area Development - Edina

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Re: Southdale Center

Postby Nick » December 30th, 2012, 8:22 pm

I merged the 1 Southdale Place topic into here. Let's have one topic for Southdale.
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby twincitizen » January 3rd, 2013, 1:00 am

Southdale rant:

I went to Southdale tonight. The refurbished mall entrances look great and and very inviting from the outside.

I may have said this before, but I feel like they (Simon) missed a huge opportunity to reduce the overall leasable space in the mall. Obviously that wouldn't be a mall owner's preference, as they are probably just a little more optimistic about its future than I am.

I grew up with Maplewood Mall and Rosedale. Those malls have very simple layouts. They are essentially 2-story rectangles, with anchors on the 4 sides (if you count the new theater wing at Rosedale as an anchor). From the center courts, you can just about see every store, save for a few that are located near the mall entrance hallways.

Southdale has a smaller central court, and more retail spaces in "pods" that are focused around the interior hallways/entrances to the anchor department stores. My point is that a lot of the smaller stores are hidden away in these wings, not visible from the central court. The renovation did a great job of opening up that central court; it is beautiful and many of the prime spaces are filling up. The wings/pods near the entrances and dept stores are quite vacant, and I'm not confident this will change. The JCPenney wing is struggling the most. Lots of blank walls on the first floor. The new food court on the 2nd level is coming along, but is still close to 50% vacant.

The other jacked-up thing about Southdale is that it has 4 levels!! 3 above ground and a basement. Macy's has some type of operation on all 4, plus Marshall's is entirely in the basement. They did add some signage near stairways and elevators to lead people down to Marshalls. The top floor is a mezzanine, only covering ~1/3 the sq footage of the mall, but it is almost entirely vacant. There's whatever small operation Macy's has up there, plus a dollar store (classy) and nothing.

Were it up to me, I would have sealed off the basement and let Marshall's have the whole top floor. Or just closed the top floor mezzanine area until demand necessitated its reopening.

It's too late now, but from an urban development standpoint, the best thing that could've happened is JCPenney closing or relocating to a standalone store. Then they could have demolished that whole wing of the mall and adjacent parking structure. That would've left a whole bunch of land that could've been sold off for development in the NE corner. Perhaps even some semblance of a street grid could've been restored. But alas the redevelopment happened, thanks to a loan from Edina, and Simon is likely stuck with a 20-25% vacant mall for the foreseeable future. The poorly named 1 Southdale Place is a good start to urbanizing the area. It would be even better if it had a sister development in the NE corner, perhaps screening or integrated with the soon-to-be-built Park & Ride. Had a good chunk of the mall been torn down, there might've even been demand for these street corner facing developments to have retail/restaurant components.
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby min-chi-cbus » January 3rd, 2013, 8:51 am

Remember that as mall owners Simon needs tenants to lease space to turn a profit. It does them little good to tear down or close down large sections of the mall just to make it more "redevelopment-friendly" for other developers (even if it can sell that land for a profit, it's not their niche business).

I do agree though that the NE corner of that property (66th & York) is BEGGING for redevelopment and would be a prime location for an office or even additional residential. One problem that development may face is that it could potentially block both new(er) residential projects that recently went up at the Galleria and now at the SE corner of Southdale Mall. I doubt they'd be okay if another building blocked their million dollar views.
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby John » January 15th, 2013, 10:09 pm

Twincitizen, I think you make some good points about the layout of Southdale, but I think it has been much improved with the new renovation. The secondary corridors seem broader and more connected to the main shopping arcade now. And I give the mall owner a lot of credit for maintaining some of the integrity of the original elements of the mall: the first enclosed suburban shopping center in the world. Overall , I think it is a lovely renovation with its low key but warm and bright interior. It has a quiet elegance about it that feels more enduring than the last rehab. I love the new atrium for the food court and it feels much better located than the previous one. Has a very contemporary, spacious, and airy feeling. As you say , the entrances are very inviting and give the mall some distinction that wasn't there from the outside originally. The designers did a sensitive and admirable job redoing this mall, and I think they have transformed it to become one of the the best looking in the Twin Cities. I wish the mall success!
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby mattaudio » February 26th, 2013, 10:51 pm

Traffic sucks on France precisely because so many developments have access right onto France. Especially Byerly's, the West Elm complex, Centennial Lakes, and most of the land uses along the west side of the street.
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby fehler » February 27th, 2013, 10:42 am

Wait, is that an entrance/exit ramp directly onto France Ave? Oh for the mess of Byerlys traffic merging north crossing the traffic trying to turn right on Hazleton. And a sucky, sucky sidewalk.
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby mulad » February 27th, 2013, 11:09 am

Does that line up with 72nd Street?

Here's a map I've been playing with for densifying the street grid in the area. Is there any consideration being made for a north-south street running from that western roundabout by the Galleria down to Gallagher Drive? A cursory peek at the plans makes me think the apartments will be right in the way, unfortunately.

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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby RailBaronYarr » February 27th, 2013, 11:38 am

I tend to agree with mattaudio on the multi-way boulevard... I think we cannot possibly hope to make our spaces better if we continue to fall victim to allowing the number of cars to move through and park in our spaces. Saying we can't turn France in to a multi-way boulevard with 2 lanes of through traffic because current vehicle counts at peak times justify their width misses the point(s):

VMT is already reducing, year-over-year. Gas prices are only going up. Why is France the only street that can carry all those cars to the local destinations? Are they merely passing through, using France as a mini-freeway or are they accessing places? How will people ever want to walk/shop/dine along France if it continues to have 3-4 lanes in each direction? Why would developers ever want to build street-addressing buildings if the road is in its current state?

France Ave between Crosstown and 494 is 1.88 miles. This could be a beautiful boulevard that one could conceivably walk the entire length making multiple stops to eat, shop, or be entertained. This could be the height of the urban core transect zone with areas to east and west marginally declining in density. I don't think we'll ever see transformative change in making our suburbs better if we aren't willing to suffer a little bit by reducing a lane and spreading that car traffic out to the other streets 1,000-2,000 feet away (or converting this car traffic to foot, bike, or transit traffic).
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby mattaudio » February 27th, 2013, 11:41 am

So is France a road or a street? That is the question.
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby nordeast homer » February 27th, 2013, 12:48 pm

It's an avenue :)
Back to your point about wanting to make it into a boulevard. I would like to see some better street scaping in this area. There are long stretches with no trees, bushes, anything. Part of that is probably the fear of blocking views around parking lots, but there are plenty of places where a little shade or a splash of color to break up the gray concrete and sidewalks would be very welcome. You could make this a lot nicer stretch of road without breaking the bank.
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby RailBaronYarr » February 27th, 2013, 1:30 pm

nordeast homer wrote:It's an avenue :)
Back to your point about wanting to make it into a boulevard. I would like to see some better street scaping in this area. There are long stretches with no trees, bushes, anything. Part of that is probably the fear of blocking views around parking lots, but there are plenty of places where a little shade or a splash of color to break up the gray concrete and sidewalks would be very welcome. You could make this a lot nicer stretch of road without breaking the bank.


To be honest, this would be a waste of money. Putting in trees or really nice planters or decorative lighting won't do anything to bring people out walking. The area is inhospitable to humans, and not for lack of greenery immediately on the sidewalk areas. Cars pass at 40-45 mph, and there is nothing to access by foot as you walk on France (even the buildings directly abutting the street turn their backs to it, facing Centennial Lake or their own parking lot). Adding trees will only make it a little bit nicer of a drive.
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby woofner » February 27th, 2013, 2:03 pm

France is around 110'-120' wide in this segment (measured using the improved area, i.e. curb-to-curb or sidewalk-to-sidewalk where sidewalk exists). Ample room exists throughout almost the entire corridor for 10-20' easements on either side - the only spot where you couldn't get a significant easement into lawn areas would be the gas stations at 70th. That means you could accommodate 6 through lanes with 24' access roads on each side throughout the corridor - requiring about 130' ROW - with almost no conflict with existing uses. It would mean a reduction in green space, but assuming you could plant trees in the median between the main roadway and the access roads, it would still make the roadway feel much narrower.

For that matter, you could probably fit a 25' median allowing for an exclusive center-running transitway along with multiway boulevard access roads and six through lanes throughout most of the corridor, sacrificing an access road or two where necessary. The full build would be a bit over 150' wide, but that of course could get down to 125' if you drop the access road on a side or two. That would allow for an open BRT segment or (this is more likely considering it's Edina) a gold-plated streetcar with shiatsu machines at each seat. Even with the 25' median, France would probably feel less wide than it currently does, although if they don't just build a tourist trolley with 15 minute headways a fair amount of motorists would switch to transit, leaving those through lanes pretty empty (a boy can dream).

It's not like there's a parking shortage in the area, though, so I'm not sure what a multiway blvd would accomplish here. If they were to tie it to parking reductions in the land uses, I'd support it, but this is a city that is tearing down an office building to build a parking ramp next to a parking ramp and across the street from another parking ramp. Similarly in a dream category is the tighter street grid. Keep in mind that Edina isn't interested in urbanism, it's interested in property taxes and aesthetics. That's why they can just plop buildings whereever.
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby MNdible » February 27th, 2013, 2:22 pm

I find it curious that the folks who abhor the idea of adding meaningful transit improvements to the suburbs are the same ones who are wasting a lot of brain cells thinking about ways to spend money improving France Avenue. This is an auto-dominated strip. It will continue to be. Short of leveling the whole strip and starting over from scratch, you're not going to change that.

Edina has focused a lot of energy creating the bike/walk paths internal to the France/York superblock. I'm not sure it's the right strategy, but it's there, so why not focus your efforts there? If I wanted to walk from the new Byerly's to the Galleria, I'd use those walking paths and not France Avenue.

I'd assume that the developer would like to acquire the outlot behind them and incorporate it into their development, and in so doing, create a direct internal connection to the bike/walk paths.
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby RailBaronYarr » February 27th, 2013, 3:06 pm

redisciple wrote:Keep in mind that Edina isn't interested in urbanism, it's interested in property taxes and aesthetics. That's why they can just plop buildings whereever.


Isn't good urbanism better for their property tax base than spending money on infrastructure that supports poor land-use, vast parking lots, etc? Edina gets away with charging high property taxes because their city has a very affluent (rich) population and thus can spend like crazy wherever they shop/eat. In this respect they are lucky that they can get away with their low-productivity spaces.
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby MNdible » February 27th, 2013, 3:20 pm

More so than that, Edina benefits by having a retail core that serves residents from a fairly wide area, including a lot of people who drive there from South Minneapolis. Ask the owners of the Galleria how low-productivity their land is.
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby mattaudio » February 27th, 2013, 3:31 pm

MNdible, he's not talking about productivity to business owners or land owners. They're on the winning side of the negative productivity calculation... they're subsidized. Alex is referring to productivity as a land use metric... The ratio of property tax receipts to infrastructure investments.
http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2013 ... ivity.html
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby MNdible » February 27th, 2013, 3:46 pm

I understand your point, but I think in this case you're misapplying it. The retail node in Edina is not an exurban Fleet Farm. These retail properties generate truly significant property taxes, and Edina benefits from the fact that they serve residents outside of their city. You may not like the form that this area takes, and no doubt it's not an oasis of urbanity nor is it the most efficient use of infrastructure, but economically it's a winner for Edina.
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby mattaudio » February 27th, 2013, 3:49 pm

Are we sure of that? Granted it is not nearly as bad as Fleet Farm in Baxter, or even Woodbury or Maple Grove... but I have my doubts that the property tax generated by these businesses over each lifecycle exceed the cost of the infrastructure to support it.
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby MNdible » February 27th, 2013, 4:34 pm

Anecdotally, I remember Myron Orfield talk about this area and how huge it is for the Edina school district to have it included within its boundaries, as opposed to Richfield right next door.

Beyond that, no, I haven't done the computations. But the infrastructure of France Avenue honestly isn't that onerous (it's a six to eight lane road, yes, but it's also 'replacing' the roads to the east that don't exist because of Southdale).

Edina doesn't have a local option sales tax, but if they did, it would be a real cash cow.
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Re: Southdale Center - Edina

Postby RailBaronYarr » February 27th, 2013, 4:48 pm

MNdible wrote:Anecdotally, I remember Myron Orfield talk about this area and how huge it is for the Edina school district to have it included within its boundaries, as opposed to Richfield right next door.

Beyond that, no, I haven't done the computations. But the infrastructure of France Avenue honestly isn't that onerous (it's a six to eight lane road, yes, but it's also 'replacing' the roads to the east that don't exist because of Southdale).

Edina doesn't have a local option sales tax, but if they did, it would be a real cash cow.


If it is indeed true that the property taxes generated by Edina (specifically France Southdale and even 50th/France) is a cash cow and exceeds the costs of infrastructure and public maintenance, then it is a zero sum game for the rest of the areas that it serves. If South Minneapolis, Richfield, Bloomington, and St Louis Park residents are driving to this highly productive area, then they are NOT staying in their own area to shop, eat, be entertained, or work. Those places therefore lose out on property tax revenue that could have been generated by the fraction of businesses that would support the people in those municipalities. But they are still on the hook to support the roads to transport all those people to other municipalities.

Furthermore, all this fiscal talk ignores the other elephants in the room. How environmental is this development pattern? How good is it for the American people's health? How good are these larger box stores and chain restaurants for the local community, total jobs, and pay per job? In the end, even if this version of development is really great for the city of Edina from a monetary perspective, one could easily argue the opposite end of the spectrum would be just as successful while not hurting the environment. Who wouldn't err on that side every time??
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