Golden Valley Planning Commission Reviews Initial Plans for 302-unit Apartment Building
The Golden Valley Planning Commission reviewed plans Tuesday for what could become one of the largest apartment buildings in the city.
Edina-based Sentinel Management Co. is proposing a 302-unit apartment building on a site where a Wells Fargo bank is located, north of Highway 55 and east of Wisconsin Avenue. The building would be five to six stories in height.
The developer would demolish the bank and build a smaller standalone Wells Fargo branch on the site.
The apartment project would include at least 46 units deemed affordable, which is 60 percent of the area’s median income or $94,600 for a family of four.
City planning officials stressed the need for housing in Golden Valley.
“We still need housing,” said Jason Zimmerman, Golden Valley planning manager. “Even with the Xenia apartments coming online, we’re going to need more housing. There’s still demand for it.”
Zimmerman said the Hello Apartments, located at Highways 169 and 55, “filled up very quickly” after it was constructed in 2017.
In addition to redeveloping the 2.74-acre Wells Fargo Bank property at 8200 Golden Valley Road, the project would also redevelop a vacant one-story office building, which last housed a Park Nicollet medical clinic.
City officials say Sentinel Management has worked with them for the last two years on the plan. They noted how it could help the city’s downtown vision and redevelopment framework plan approved in 2021.
“We’ve had a lot of questions about ‘why we can’t we get a grocery store?’ ‘why can’t we get more restaurants?’ You need people,” said Zimmerman. “This attempts to add people to the downtown who can visit a grocery store, who can visit a restaurant. Hopefully this will help future areas of redevelopment.”
Residents raise concerns from shading to size
Neighboring residents have emailed and called city officials expressing concerns about the project’s scope. Some say it would be too big for the neighboring Wesley Commons condominiums to the north that line Golden Valley Road. Residents say the proposed apartments will block sunlight and cause shading issues.
Jennifer Nyberg and her 9-year-old son, Hudson, were among those who spoke before the planning commission.
“It will stop all of our plants, our trees. It’s icy in general, but it also won’t melt if there’s nothing to stop it,” said 9-year-old Hudson Nyberg.
Planning officials say Sentinel Management prepared a shading study, though the city doesn’t require one.
“For the most part of the year, the homes to the north and east would not be impacted,” said Zimmerman. “But as you get into later winter and later in the day, some of the shadows from the taller portion of the building would shade the front portion of those townhomes.”
Other concerns included adding more traffic on Golden Valley Road, though a traffic study found the project would not cause congestion, Zimmerman said.
While the city can’t fully dictate what Wells Fargo can do with its property, one resident shared frustration why the new bank had to be a standalone building.
“I’m disappointed that the Wells Fargo facility is not inside a larger building. That’s another self-standing, land-wasting blight,” said Cathy Waldhauser, a Golden Valley resident and former planning commissioner member. Waldhauser did express how the overall project could benefit the city.
Several other residents who spoke say the plan would be an upgrade over what the site is currently.
“It’s a lot of asphalt parking,” said resident Alyssa Dybvig.
The Golden Valley Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of zoning and land use changes needed for the project to move forward.
“When I think about the overall downtown plan and what we’re trying to achieve and where some of those efforts might make the most sense, I can’t think of a better site,” said commission member Sophia Ginis.
The Golden Valley City Council will have the final say on the project and whether it can proceed.
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