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Plans for former Hudson building get planning commission approval

This drawing from June of 2014 shows a concept for how the green space near the river could be used. The drawing was included with the site plan documents, which were reviewed by the Hastings Planning Commission Monday evening.

After almost two years of predevelopment work, the final piece of the former Hudson puzzle is finally falling into place.

On Monday evening, the Hastings Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the Great Rivers Landing site plan, one of the last pieces that needs city approval before the developer can purchase the property and begin renovating the old manufacturing facility.

The commission’s action covered six items. First was the preliminary and final plat. The site is 3.8 acres and entirely owned by the city, but the property was still technically divided into several lots as set by a 1857 lot map. Prior to the Hudson Manufacturing business building there, the block had been home to a number of early Hastings homes and businesses, said Community Development Director John Hinzman.

Replatting the site merges all the old lots and turns them into one single lot. At the same time, the city will retain ownership of the northernmost strip of land, where the public trail is located. That land fulfills the city’s parkland dedication requirements, which require a portion of the replatted land to be dedicated as parks, playgrounds, public open space or storm water holding areas. In this case, the land along the riverfront will be added to the city’s parkland. Prior to the city’s purchase of the site, the trail sat on Hudson owned land with a public use easement.

Once redevelopment is underway, the trees bounding the trail will be removed and the trail itself will shift south to better connect with the site. While the rest of the property will be owned and maintained by Confluence Development, the project developer, the city is requiring that the public have access to certain parts of it, including the green space on the northwest side of the site.

The commission also recommended approving the developer’s request for four special use permits; one that would allow for first floor residential on part of the site and three relating to federal shoreland ordinances.

The final part was the site plan itself. The building is planned to have 60 apartment units along with a restaurant, event/banquet space and retail space. Commercial and public uses are located on the east parts of the building, with some located on the basement level of the north wing. An outdoor patio connected to the retail spaces is planned for the northwest corner. The existing small parking lot on Second Street, between the two oldest wings, will be closed and converted to a tenant-only courtyard. A new parking lot with access to both Second Street and the parking lot under the bridge will be built on the southeast corner, a space currently occupied by grass and trees.

Parking

Parking remains to be finalized, but the commission was presented with two parking options, one of which would be implemented depending on the results of a Metropolitan Council grant application. The grant, if approved, would provide about $1.5 million for the construction of a 155-stall parking ramp on the southwest corner, which currently has a surface parking lot. The application passed the first round of approvals and it looks probable that it will be granted, Hinzman said, but the developers won’t know for sure until Dec. 9.

The ramp wouldn’t have as much visual impact as it might sound, however. The surface lot there now sits 16 to 18 feet below the level of Lock and Dam Road, said developer Pat Regan, so the upper level of the ramp would be comparable to the height of the street at that corner, with a lower level underneath. It would also be set back from the main structure, ensuring residents on that side of the building don’t lose their views, he said.

If the grant is denied, parking would be created across the street, where the 1st National Bank building is. Confluence Development also owns that site, and has indicated it would be the target of a second development phase after the former Hudson building is complete. To create more parking, the bank building would be demolished and replaced with a parking lot.

Both parking plans meet the required number of spaces, all of which would be on private property. Parking counts do not include any street parking or public parking under the bridge.

The final parking plans will be submitted separately, as will the final landscape and lighting plans, which depend on the parking plans. Although it’s not common to approve a site plan with those items held for later, in this case it will allow the sale of the property – and ultimately on-site renovation efforts – to happen more quickly.

Next steps

With the commission’s recommendation, the plans will move next to city council. The council will review the items on Nov. 2 with formal council action scheduled for Nov. 16. The council will also vote on the purchase agreement on Nov. 16. Once the council approves that, the property can be sold and Confluence Development can begin its own work.

“We’re excited to get going,” said Greg Stotko, president of Stotko Speedling Construction, which is working with Confluence Development on the project.

Some activities are expected to begin on site over the winter, Hinzman said. If the Met Council grant goes through, Stotko said he’d like to start building parking ramp foundations as early as this spring.

Construction on the residential portions of the building is expected to take about a year. Commercial construction is expected to take about a year and a half, Hinzman said.

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