The St. Louis Park City Council gave the go-ahead Monday night to plans to construct a new Goodwill store in the southwest portion of the existing LA Fitness' parking lot.
Council members unanimously approved the preliminary and final plat and Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the project, would will see 1.54 acres of excess parking at the LA Fitness facility converted into a 17,600-square-foot Goodwill store. LA Fitness will not undergo any changes, though the lot it occupies will be reduced to 5.47 acres.
The plan will allow both businesses to advertise on the existing signage along Hwy. 100, will see the two businesses share parking spaces and won't require any new driveways onto either 35th or 36 streets.
Council Member Anne Mavity supported the overall project, but voiced some concern regarding bike and pedestrian traffic being able to easily access the Goodwill from 36th Street.
"I think the project makes sense overall, but I'm not happy with the bike and pedestrian access," Mavity said. "It's not clear to me how pedestrians will get to the store coming from the south."
Assistant Zoning Administrator Gary Morrison noted the slope of the hill immediately to the south is so steep—a 20-foot difference—that it would be pretty rare for pedestrians or bicyclists to attempt traversing it. Mayor Jeff Jacobs agreed, noting someone would "have to be part mountain goat with a pair of golf shoes to make it down" the hill.
A drive-up donation lane is included in the development, located to the far west side of the Goodwill store.
Jay Moore, a project developer with Oppidan Holdings, said the store is equipped to queue up at least 15 cars along the west side of the building for drive-up donations, easing worries about congestion seen at neighboring Goodwill stores in Hopkins and Minnetonka.
"This stacking lane is incredibly long, accommodating 15 cars," Moore said. "15 could stack up along Highway 100 there, then it could feasibly go back to the east around the building. But if there were 15 cars stacked, I'd probably come back at a different time."
Morrison said neither LA Fitness nor Goodwill were concerned about lack of parking as part of the plan, noting LA Fitness officials were "very comfortable with the proposal."
Jacobs said he's a member at the fitness center and, although it might look busy to someone driving past, parking is typically not an issue.
"As packed as the place in inside, there's plenty of parking there," Jacobs said.
Goodwill presently has 29 other locations throughout the Twin Cities. The new store is expected to employ up to 30 employees, alongside 8-12 participants engaged in career training programs.