, residents have been waiting to catch a glimpse of the future .
Finally, during a with the Thursday evening, The Cornerstone Group unveiled initial renderings of the future downtown Richfield center.
"We're still very much in the design and planning part of the process," Colleen Carey, president of the development firm, told Richfield Patch. "It's not a done deal yet."
Thursday's event was a chance for the Carey and her development team to showcase their current concept for the site. The event was also aimed to gather more input and feedback.
"We want input and we welcome input," Carey said. "We want [the center] to be a place where people want to go and hangout.'
Carey initially and many of her original intentions haven't changed.
The former garden center building will be rehabbed to house permanent tenants and provide public space. A few months ago, Carey announced the firm was in , however, nothing has been confirmed yet.
"We had originally hoped to have leases signed by now," Carey said. "We have one tenant that says they would definitely like to be there."
Carey said plans may need to move forward without the co-op grocery store and that other possibilities are being looked into.
Moving outside the building, the design renderings plan for an outdoor market pavilion, a kids waterplay area, a performance stage, swinging benches covered by an arbor, gardens, an attached porch facing the wetlands and new bridges connecting the site with .
The market pavilion would serve as a possible location for the Richfield Farmers Market in the warm season and as parking or perhaps a holiday or winter market in the cold months.
As for the performance stage, Carey said details with the city are still being worked out. Talks about creating an ampitheater have been on the books for a while, with the Richfield Symphonic Band hoping to have a space created.
"Whether or not [they city] does something with us, we intend to create the space," Carey said. "We hope the city will want to work with us to make that space something they would want to use as well."
In addition, a housing element is still planned for the property. The unit would be on the northwest side of the property at the lake's edge and would feature about 115 market rate and affordable units at an 80/20 split.
Another housing structure on Lyndale Avenue that would've housed was also planned, but for financial reasons, . However, Carey said work is still being down with the college to help find another space in the area.
While the developer had hoped to have signed leases by now and start construction this fall, that will likely be put on hold. For obvious reasons, Carey said it was important to get leases locked down before bringing in the construction crews.
"My timeline would be as soon as we can get the tenants in place," she said.
However, plans to begin the housing portion of the site are still set for Summer 2013.
While many area residents may be getting restless with anticipation, Carey said she wants to do it right.
"The good ones take a long time to get done," she said. "And that doesn’t happen over night. ... But we're working hard."
Richfield Patch will continue to update readers as more information becomes available on the project.