Preliminary Lyndale Ave./Hwy. 121 realignment plan released

New housing, retail and trails possible following crosstown reconstruction

A group of city planners and neighborhood members released a land-use plan that could realign Lyndale Avenue and Highway 121 between Minnehaha Creek and the Crosstown Highway early in the next decade.

The land-use plan would add a commercial node at West 58th Street & Lyndale, which would encourage mixed retail and housing uses. West 57th Street would be reconnected through the area, and some Kenny neighborhood streets would be connected to Highway 121. Greenspace and trail connections would also be added.

The land-use plan is the result of many public meetings and planning by the Lyndale Area South Renewal Creek to Crosstown (LASR-CC) group, made up of representatives from the Kenny, Windom, Armatage and Lynnhurst neighborhoods.

Highway 121’s realignment would dead-end going north at 58th Street – eliminating the one-way on Lyndale from 56th to 58th Streets. Drivers who want to continue southbound on Lyndale wouldn’t have to run left on West 58th, then a right again to get back to Lyndale.

The realignment would also leave a very large parcel of land for development near the Crosstown. The city will submit a request for proposals for development along that stretch.

Senior City Planner Beth Elliot said the plan is still very preliminary and must go through an engineering and design process, as well as city approvals, which has just begun.

She said she’s currently working in city channels to find the estimated $7 million for the project, as well as exploring grant funding, which wouldn’t be available until 2011 at the earliest.

Elliot said the city and county are also still in the midst of determining ownership of the soon-to-be-obsolete Highway 121. “There are various entities that own various parts of the road,” Elliot said.

At a public meeting in October, residents had a mixed view of the plan. Some feared increased traffic and noise, while others worried the project was too far off.

There were concerns about homes being taken as part of the project. “There are no plans for condemnation or eminent domain,” Elliot said.

She added that the project would free up some land parcels ripe for development, igniting developers’ interest in nearby single-family homes. “There will possibly be opportunities the market will take a hold of,” she said.

As for the retail component, some residents said they don’t want the plan to include the chain store Wal-Mart.

There were also many questions about how the realignment would be implemented and how community input would be incorporated.

The land-use planning is being done in conjunction with Hennepin County’s broader Lyndale Avenue Reconstruction plans (the street is county-owned) and the state’s Crosstown Reconstruction project. The Minnesota Department of Transportation will start Crosstown reconstruction in July and the county will reconstruct Lyndale from just north of Lake Street to 56th Street in 2007 or 2008.

Elliot said the plan was posted online for public review beginning Nov. 4 and is also available at Washburn Library, 5244 Lyndale Ave. S. and through the affected neighborhood groups.

She said after a 45-day review period in which residents can submit comments to the city about the project, the plan will go before the Planning Commission for a public hearing. Elliot said she’s aiming for a Dec. 20 Planning Commission date. Members of the LASR-CC group will continue to work on a Steering Committee to shape the plan.

Despite making moves through the city process, Elliot said she wants residents to know that there is still a lot of time to comment. “This is a long-term vision,” she said, “We’re not suggesting changes happen tomorrow.”

For more information about the project or to view the plan, contact Elliot at 673-2442, Beth.Elliot@ci.minneapolis.mn.us or visit www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/planning/south-lyndale.asp.