SWLRT: Mixing it up more than Bundt Cake?

It appears the Metropolitan Council’s marketing and planning team are working in tandem to sabotage the Beltline Station in St. Louis Park.


I’m not quite sure what “mixing up more than Bundt cake” means, or why it’s being used as a marketing slogan. Possibly because NordicWare, a nearby industrial facility, invented the bunt back. But, if the marketing and planning team are trying to imply there will be a “mix of use”, they are mistaken.

The new station plan will tear down three buildings and cover the football field sized site with open surface parking. Here’s a snapshot of the Council’s plan:


It is beyond disappointing that the Met Council is looking to build a large, counter-productive surface parking lot at the last stop before Minneapolis in an urbanizing inner-suburb. It strikes me as irresponsible planning and contradictory to the Met Council’s own goals of transit-oriented development.

The Met Council is also going against the wishes of the City of St. Louis Park, who is wanting to do the right thing. You can read St. Louis Park’s planning guidelines here (Warning: large PDF. Fast-forward to page 38).

If we want to have transit that is successful, it must build community and economic value. The Beltline Station should capture the value of transit through development and connect the neighborhoods on either sides of Highway 7. Parking lots do not do this. We need good, quality, mixed-use development around transit stations. End of story. Without that, we’ll have nothing but an another missed opportunity.

Call To Action: If you’re interested in making a difference, please contact the Met Council’s Southwest Community Works here or use the interactive forum here.

**Updated: – What could be? Good question. A big hat tip to Matt Steele who superimposed Lyn-Lake into the proposed parking lot. View image here: https://flic.kr/p/ouWy15.

**Updated: – Check out Matt Steele’s excellent post on this light rail station and the cost of auto-orientation. Read the article here: https://streets.mn/2014/07/28/swlrtbeltline/

17 thoughts on “SWLRT: Mixing it up more than Bundt Cake?

  1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

    It would appear that the vision is for the park-and-ride to be temporary, to be filled in with future redevelopment. This seems to be the case at the Lake St station on the Blue Line.

    If that’s the case, is this a problem?

    1. Evan RobertsEvan Roberts

      Temporary designations have a tendency to turn into permanent uses in our system. I mean, the Kenilworth corridor has been designated as a future spot for light rail for ~ 30 years. That’s an actual generation, and several generations of residential tenure, so that now people see the temporary parkland as its natural permanent state.

      If it’s really intended to be temporary, the Met Council needs to make some sort of agreement with St Louis Park about selling it off for development. Ideally that would be a written agreement with a timetable.

      1. Nathaniel M Hood Post author

        Evan – I agree. I’d feel more comfortable if there was a redevelopment agreement. I don’t think we’re likely to see that though. By making this a parking lot today, we’re likely sealing the deal it’ll remain a parking lot through 2030.

  2. Nathaniel

    Sean – I wasn’t able to find anything in the plan specifically indicating that the parking lot would eventually be redeveloped. I believe you’re right that there is a good chance, 10 to 15 years after construction, that it could be developed into housing. I would content that they should prep the land for development to correspond immediately with the opening of SWLRT.

    1. Michael RodenMichael Roden

      Absolutely. This is such a critical spot – especially with Excelsior and Grand nearby. With new TOD and a lot of road diets, this area could be an incredible success story of suburban conversion.

      1. Nathaniel M Hood Post author

        Michael – I agree. It’s critical. If we’re to do this thing right, this is a station that needs so desperately to be urban. Not to mention a nice road diet on Highway 7. However, that might be a bigger, tougher battle.

    2. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

      I’m only basing my assumption off the original station plan from the SW Community Works site. It would seem that they simply don’t have someone to develop the site. I assume if they wanted to build a permanent park-and-ride facility on this large a parcel, they’d build a ramp.

      1. Michael RodenMichael Roden

        I would like to be optimistic too, and that was my initial reaction. However, the fact that they are planning on tearing down existing buildings to lay down surface parking is a little suspicious to me. Also, once parking is being used it has a constituency – and we all know how people hate change.

  3. Pingback: SWLRT Belt Line Station and the Cost of Auto-Orientation | streets.mn

  4. Alex

    Good catch. I’d add that even those of us who support this line think it’s too expensive. The first thing that should be slashed is the park and ride budget. Hopkins and St Louis Park aren’t exactly exurbs; ridership at their stations should be fed by buses. Minnetonka and Eden Prairie are more debatable, but even there the stations are in edge city place types where feeder buses would synergize with serving the adjacent job centers.

  5. Sara

    Hi–Thanks for this. For the call to action, I would also encourage folks to contact Kathryn Hansen of the met council. She is part of the SWLRT Project Office and I also believe she works in the Met council Office of Transit Oriented Development (TOD). I had a conversation with her in March about these same issues and she kept talking about how it is important for the commuters coming off of HWY 100 to have a place to park. Her email is kathryn.hansen@metrotransit.org.

      1. Cameron ConwayCameron Conway

        Just emailed her myself. My first reaction is that the Metropolitan Council feels an immense amount of pressure towards justifying what has become a very expensive project, and probably just wants to maximize initial ridership with this surface parking lot. We all know that a great TOD neighborhood surrounding this station will do a better job of guaranteeing long term ridership, but this parking lot will certainly generate more ridership in the next 5 years or so.

        1. Matt SteeleMatt Steele

          It’s almost like they should just not build such an expensive line, and save a huge portion of the construction costs by ending a first phase at Shady Oak/Hopkins.

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