Brooklyn Park approves Target development; some residents want more assurances

BY JONATHAN YOUNG

jonathan.young@ecm-inc.com

Target has the official go-ahead for its plans to double the size of it Brooklyn Park campus by 2014.

In a 5-0 vote May 20, the city council approved the plans. Councilmember Elizabeth Knight was absent.

The expansion includes two, eight-story, 325,000-square-foot buildings, for a total of 650,000 square feet. Currently the campus has 561,000 square feet of office space and 130,600 square feet of technical support space.

Although the buildings are eight stories, the windows will span two stories, giving the impression of a smaller, more "pedestrian scale," said architect Ted Davis of RSP Architects.

In addition to adding office space, the expansion will add about 2,000 parking stalls, a Target representative said.

In December, the Brooklyn Park Economic Development Authority approved a renewed agreement with Target to help fund the development.

Currently Target receives tax abatements (partial tax refund) for the most recently constructed building. The city agreed to provide similar help for future construction. But instead of an abatement, the city will make an equivalent lump-sum payment using existing Tax Increment Financing dollars, which are limited in use. Then the taxes Target pays each year will go to the general fund, where they are more useful.

Council members praised the development plans Target presented May 21.

"Way to go, guys," Councilmember Mike Trepanier said. "This has been a long time in coming. … I’m excited you’re coming to Brooklyn Park, and I think I can speak for everybody when I say, ‘Welcome.’"

"It’s a really great plan," Councilmember Peter Crema said. "I’m very pleased with the aesthetics of what you’re doing. … I can’t wait to see those buildings up."

"These are beautiful buildings," Councilmember Richard Gates said. "… You’ve been great for us already, and I can’t wait to see you build more."

Mayor Jeffrey Lunde pointed out that Target is a partner in helping to get funding for local projects, such as the completion of Highway 610, as well as a partner in seeking to get the proposed Bottineau Transitway project to end in Brooklyn Park. He said the construction will also encourage other development.

"As this building starts to take place, it’s going to allow us to start to attract those restaurants that people have been asking for," he said.

A few residents expressed concerns at the May 21 meeting. They said that since Target is benefiting from taxpayer aid, it should provide more assurances that it will give back to the community.

Resident Boyd Morrison said he supported the development but said last time Target expanded, it made big promises but didn’t follow through.

"The taxpayers didn’t receive anything other than pay you …" he told Target representatives.

He said the city should get assurances that minorities will get a certain percentage of the construction jobs created and that Brooklyn Park residents will be hired by Target.

Resident Wokie Freeman read a letter on behalf of the nonprofit ACER that expressed similar sentiments.

"We affirm the city of Brooklyn Park’s support of the Target development," she read. "… The expansion is critical to the city council’s vision of expanding and diversifying …"

The letter said the group understands the benefits of Target coming to Brooklyn Park, but said as Brooklyn Park invests in the Target site, it should discuss how more community members can get jobs there. The group requested a meeting with city officials and Target representatives to discuss the issue. It also requested a report of all the tax abatement payments to date.

Lunde told Freeman the city manager would follow-up on the request for information.

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