Mall of Entertainment proposes 2018 project start

Albertville Mall of Entertainment project planner Anne Hurlburt addresses the Albertville City Council regarding the mall’s environmental review. The proposed mall complex would begin construction in 2018, with partial completion one year later. (Photo by Aaron Brom)

AUAR is ‘First step to develop property’

The proposed Mall of Entertainment complex in Albertville would begin construction in 2018, with partial completion one year later.

That’s what project planners told the City Council, which voted to approve distribution of a comprehensive environmental project.

Appearing before the council, to review the Alternative Urban Areawide Review (AUAR) were project planners Anne Hurlburt and Josh Maus.

Hurlburt said the AUAR considers “the cumulative environmental impact on multiple projects in a geographic area.” She added, “This is the first step to develop any portion of the property.”

Hurlburt presented Concept A and Concept B for the site’s development. Each concept plans development of the Mall of Entertainment — featuring conference, hotel, indoor theme park and water park — as well as retail/restaurant/office/medical spaces. Concept A also proposes 260 multi-family units (180 apartments and 80 senior living spaces).

Hurlburt said Concept A is developer Darkenwald Holding’s preference. “Any development is going to have some impacts as part of the approval process,” Hurlburt said.

Maus updated the council regarding traffic analysis. He said the project would open in 2019, with full build-out by 2040. Maus noted several areas of traffic improvement that would be preferred, such as adding lanes to County Rd. 19 as planned by Wright County, as well as adding a right turn lane on eastbound Outlet Mall traffic looking to turn south onto County Rd. 19. Other areas cited for improvement would be a full interchange at County Rd. 19 and Interstate 94 (presently a half interchange), adding a traffic signal at the I-94 eastbound ramp at County Rd. 19, and improving/adding lanes at the County Rd. 37/I-94 intersection.

“When will there be more (development) applications?” councilor Rob Olson asked. Hurlburt responded there is “no formal schedule” but anticipates a 14-16 month build-out for the first phase. “Year 2019 is the earliest (the site) could be occupied,” she said.

In his project memo to the City Council, City Administrator Adam Nafstad said, “Concurrent with the review of the AUAR Update, the developer will submit an application for Planned Unit Development (PUD) General Concept Plan approval and Rezoning, along with an application for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment to change the Proposed Land Use Map.”

He said A PUD Development Stage Plan application for the initial phase (the Mall of Entertainment) would be submitted shortly thereafter.

“The schedule calls for completing the Final Plan process for the MOE in 2017 for construction in 2018,” Nafstad said. “PUD Development Stage Plans for the remainder of the site will be submitted as development proceeds.”

The total project site is 111 acres. In Concept A, the AUAR considers a 294,000-square-foot retail/restaurant and 170,000-square-foot office/medical use; in Concept B it proposes a 321,000-square foot retail/restaurant and 198,000-square-foot office/medical use. Both Plans A and B propose the Mall of Entertainment — 8,840 square feet for administrative spaces; 12,000 square feet of conference space; a 275-room, six story, 144,160-square-foot hotel; 100,000-square-foot indoor theme park; and 50,000-square-foot water park.

The mall site would occupy 17.46 acres.

Staff said the theme park would draw approximately 570,000 visitors annually, with the indoor water park estimated to draw 215,000 annual visitors. “It would complement the Albertville Outlet Mall, which already draws five million visitors to the area every year,” Nafstad said.

The Mall of Entertainment is estimated to offer 580 full- and part-time jobs.

Mayor Jillian Hendrickson and councilors Olson, Aaron Cocking, Walter Hudson and John Vetsch voted to supported the resolution authorizing distribution of the AUAR to all applicable agencies and units of government for review.

City Attorney Mike Couri asked planner Hurlburt “what other obstacles” there would be for applications once the AUAR is submitted.

Hurlburt responded, “I don’t know if time is anything we can identify. This is a very complex development with a lot of moving parts. This is just the first step, and we thank you for your action tonight.”

The authorization to distribute the AUAR is not a land use or zoning approval of any elements of the concept plan. Each of these components will be evaluated through separate zoning/subdivision applications.

ST. MICHAEL DEVELOPMENT

In other news, the council considered a request from the city of St. Michael concerning plans for an 80-acre residential site near St. Michael-Albertville High School and Fieldstone Elementary School.

The land abuts Albertville’s corporate border and would most easily be serviced with Albertville sewer. City Administrator Nafstad said the developer hopes to close on the Montgomery property in mid-August.

“The big motive is ponding,” Nafstad said. “St. Michael is planning to explore options for a second outlet for a pond and design overflow. This is additional protection to floods in the Albert Villas neighborhood.”

The City Council unanimously voted to approve a St. Michael Sewer Service Agreement subject to city attorney review.