Shade, density, zoning: TCAAP redevelopment plan emerges
Despite concerns over the number of housing units included in it, the Ramsey County Board approved the master plan for the redevelopment of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant this week.
The detailed 172-page document outlines everything from how tall buildings can be within the sprawling 427-acre redevelopment to what percentage of its sidewalks have to be shaded.
The Ramsey County Board approved the plan 5-1 on Tuesday, with only Commissioner Janice Rettman voting against it. Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire was absent.
Much discussion took place ahead of the vote about the number of housing units allowable on the site, now called Rice Creek Commons. The plan, created by Arden Hills with the help of a consultant, capped the number at 1,431. Commissioners indicated they had hoped to see that figure closer to 1,700 but said the document could be amended to increase the parcel’s density down the road if necessary.
“This is a 427-acre site, and the city and county agree on almost all the zoning … except a little bit on the density,” Commissioner Blake Huffman said. “Now it’s time to go and see what the market thinks. … If it’s different than what the city has approved … the plan can be (changed).”
Commissioner Rafael Ortega echoed Huffman’s comments, adding he thinks the housing density should be looked at as a range between 1,400 and 1,700 and not a fixed number.
“We have a vision and we have lofty goals and the plan is to get there, and this is a big step forward,” Ortega said. “So I don’t think there is a big discrepancy (on density). … Sometimes, we let perfect get in the way of good.”
While agreeing that the plan could be altered, Arden Hills Mayor David Grant said Thursday that the city plans to try to stick to the 1,431 figure.
Grant added that most suburbs tend to allow three housing units per acre, while the master plan for Rice Creek Commons allows about nine.
While acknowledging the stretch that Arden Hills is already making on housing density, Huffman said the county had hoped to see more to ensure the county sees enough return on its investment.
“The county has already spent millions on this and will spend (a lot) more on infrastructure, so we’re certainly anxiously looking forward to our return, and more units will help drive that,” Huffman said.