Social Engineering in Minnetonka? City Plans to “Modernize” Ridgedale Area

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MINNETONKA, Minn. – Minnetonka City Council has discreet plans to “modernize” the Ridgedale area and turn it into a mixed-use community.

In 2012, the City of Minnetonka began work on a “master plan” to guide future developments in the Ridgedale area as well as control land use, design, and “key investments.” The plans, which are laid out in two PowerPoint presentations “Ridgedale: A vision for 2035” and “Ridgedale Area Public Realm Guidelines,” aim to promote social change by turning the area into an urban hotspot.

The project emphasizes the importance of transforming the “public realm” to set the tone for the rest of the area. The changes will require the city to have greater control over the land.

“The public realm is really an area that begins to transform a district in a way that you have control over, but we don’t have control over a lot of the area within this district. It’s a way of putting standards and concepts and materials and vision forward to help guide developers or people that wanted to refresh their properties in a way that contributed to the whole,” Joan Macleod, one of the project consultants, said.

“These are not exact designs. They’re just inspirations of what could be a transformation in this area,” Macleod added.

Despite Macleod dismissing the plans as “just inspirations,” the city’s “Ridgedale Area Vision” has already been set to start construction in April 2019. The plans are to “modernize” the area by reconstructing Plymouth Road to Interstate 394 to include three roundabouts to “slow traffic and focus access points,” significantly increase the amount of high-density housing, discourage segregated areas of land use, and encourage sustainable practices like walking, biking, and reliance on public transport.

The mixed-use apartment building at 1700 Plymouth Road was the City of Minnetonka’s catalyst project. The project is considered the city’s goal for the rest of the developments in the Ridgedale area: mid-rise, mixed-use buildings, where the residents utilize the sidewalks and public transport to run their errands. The policy basis for the area will focus on aspects of increased density, incentives for redevelopment, sidewalks, and traffic calming.

Minnetonka residents have had little opportunity to voice their opinions on the proposed changes to urbanize their city. Letters sent to residents in 2013 and 2017 were vague and did not accurately propose the City of Minnetonka’s extensive plans to “transform” the area.

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