Knollwood Mall’s plan to replace small interior stores with four bigger retailers around the size of Old Navy was unanimously approved by the St. Louis Park city council Monday evening, but Rouse Companies, the mall’s owner, said that the city’s conditions make the project “infeasible.”
The city wants Rouse to foot the full $2.5 million to $4 million bill to bring the 37 acre development into compliance with stormwater standards. Rouse only wants to finance drainage solutions for the eight acres it’s redeveloping.
“We can’t be obligated to a $2.5 million to a $4 million obligation or we have an infeasible project,” said Kevin Connell, vice president of development and construction at Rouse. “We’re looking to execute a project that has a very thin margin.”
Under the terms of the planned unit development approved by the council on Monday, Rouse would be obligated to build an on-site dry pond during redevelopment and to build in-ground tanks by October 2015. The Minnehaha Creek Watershed is considering the construction of an off-site stormwater pond; should the project go through, Rouse would be off the hook for the in-ground tanks.
Council members have said that Knollwood’s responsibility is to bring stormwater management up to standards for the full mall.
“This is a company that is not going bankrupt tomorrow, so to hear them say, ‘I can’t afford $2 million’—I’ve got a credibility problem,” Sue Sanger said in August.
Here’s Knollwood’s tentative plan for redevelopment:
Knollwood building: Rouse is proposing to remove the interior mall located between Kohls and TJ Max. The interior mall will be replaced with approximately four “Junior Box” retailers about the size of stores like Old Navy.
Small “out” building: A small three tenant building is proposed to be built in the parking lot at the corner of Hwy 7 and Aquila Ave. This building will contain Panera Bread and two other retailers. The Panera will include a drive-thru and an outdoor seating area.Parking lot: The shopping center parking lot, located between Kohls, Hwy 7 and TJ Max will be replaced and redesigned to improve traffic and pedestrian flow. The redesign will include significant landscaping integrated into the pedestrian routes through the parking lot.