Eagan opens environmental comment period on Thomson Reuters site slated for redevelopment

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A massive chunk of the former Thomson Reuters campus in Eagan is another step closer to potential redevelopment and community members are invited to share their thoughts as part of an environmental review.

Local real estate developer Ryan Cos., which entered a purchase and sale agreement with Thomson Reuters earlier this year, is looking to redevelop the 179-acre parcel from major office space to include light industrial uses like warehousing and distribution centers, along with hundreds of potential residential units.

A recent 4-1 vote by the Eagan City Council sent the comprehensive guide plan amendment, which would change the land use designation to industrial and low- and medium-density residential, to the Metropolitan Council for consideration.

The council also unanimously approved the preparation of an environmental assessment in the form of an Alternative Urban Areawide Review to understand how different development scenarios might affect the environment.

Two development scenarios will be evaluated as part of the review: one includes a major office scenario consistent with Eagan’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan; the second will evaluate a light industrial and residential scenario, according to a city news release.

The first step in the process, called a Scoping Environmental Assessment Worksheet, has a 30-day comment period. The Scoping EAW, which describes issues to be studied and potential data sources, can be viewed at http://pipr.es/2rLTSpL and is open for public comment through June 27.

Additionally, residents can submit written comments at an open house scheduled for 5:30 p.m. June 12 at the Eagan City Hall Training Room.

Redevelopment plan inches forward

Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire, who voted in favor of sending the proposal to the Met Council at a May 7 meeting, emphasized that the project is still in its early stages.

“There are at least six months of consideration by the Metropolitan Council, which doesn’t even begin until there is a significant period of environmental assessment and analysis of implications like water, traffic and sewer,” Maguire said.

Eagan residents who spoke at the May 7 meeting voiced concerns about traffic congestion and the preservation of mature trees and wildlife in the area.

Protecting green spaces near the parcel has been a common concern among residents and neighbors.

Details of proposed redevelopment

(Courtesy of the City of Eagan)

Minneapolis-based Ryan revealed its plans for redeveloping the 179-acre parcel at 610 Opperman Drive last month.

As outlined in the proposal, 120 acres would be allocated to industrial use in the central and eastern portion of the site and could include a data center, research and laboratory spaces and an office showroom.

The remaining 59 acres would have a mix of housing types including townhomes, twin homes and single-family homes.

The proposal indicates that 35 acres at the southwest portion of the site would be marked low-density residential and could house 70 to 140 units, while the remaining 24 acres at the northwest portion of the site would be marked medium-density and house 80 to 180 units.

Council Member Paul Bakken, who was the sole vote against moving the proposal on to the Met Council at the May 7 meeting, noted concerns about the density of the proposed residential housing, adding that he would prefer to see all low-density residential.

“I am very supportive of redevelopment on this property,” Bakken said. “It would be intellectually dishonest of me to support the current proposal, so I’ll be voting no, but I do so with the hope that it will come back and we’ll make some changes,” he said.

Thomson Reuters, which relocated to a new 300,000-square-foot office near the Minnesota Vikings headquarters, also in Eagan, will still maintain its print manufacturing facility at the Eagan campus.

Thomson Reuters has been in Dakota County since 1996, when it bought out West Publishing for $3.4 billion. West Publishing had offices in downtown St. Paul until 1992, when it moved to Eagan.

Ryan is also the developer behind a 40-acre parcel of Rice Creek Commons in Arden Hills, which it plans to market to prospective tenants as a potential corporate campus, research and development center, or a mix of manufacturing and distribution facilities alongside retail and restaurant space.

While only three votes were needed to send the proposal to the Met Council for review, Maguire said at the meeting that four votes will be required from the city council to officially approve the land use amendment.

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