Rosedale Expansion is a Great Opportunity for Roseville

The City of Roseville has a great opportunity available. If they take advantage of it.

Jones Lange LaSalle, the owners of Rosedale Mall want to add a 140,000 sq ft addition to the NW side of the mall along with developing two or more out lots or pads.

To make up for the loss of 360 parking spaces they want to add additional parking ramp space with about 420 spaces. The out lot development will use excess unused parking space so there is no need to replace it.



The Rosedale Fortress

Rosedale Mall is, for people walking or riding bicycles, perhaps best described as an impenetrable fortress. You can’t get there from here. At least not if you value your life and nerves.


Satellite image of Rosedale. Existing parking decks are beige color on SW corner. (Image: Google Maps)

Satellite image of Rosedale. Existing parking decks are beige color on SW corner. (Image: Google Maps)

This is particularly a problem when you consider how many tens of thousands of people live within easy walking and bicycling distance of the mall. Topping this list are the 19,000 students of The University of Northwestern, Bethel University, and University of Minnesota — St Paul Campus that are all within about two miles, or a 10 minute bicycle ride, of Rosedale.

The main U of MN campus is just 3 more miles away via a direct bikeway (the transitway). At 5.5 miles, this is still an easy 30 minute ride, and is already a popular bicycle route with students, faculty, and others.

Besides the students, there are a lot of single family residential buildings in the area, and a significant amount of multi-family buildings within a 10 minute bicycle ride. Many of these do not have cars and currently utilize taxis, transit, or bicycles to get to local amenities.

The Opportunity to Fix a Longstanding Problem

As part of approving the expansion plan, Roseville should require that Jones Lange LaSalle provide safe and practical pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

Starting from the mall and working our way out like a spider web:

Parking — Provide parking for bicycles that is safe, located near entrances, and ideally, covered.

Access — Safe and useable access infrastructure from the perimeter, across the parking lots to the mall should be provided. At minimum, there should be one route from the north for people coming from the University of Northwestern, Bethel University, and multi-tenant and other residential on the north side of the mall and another on the west or southwest for people arriving via the bikeway along Fairview such as from the U of M.

(Ideally there should also be access from the southeast. Done properly this would likely require a bridge or tunnel traversing Highway 36 and Snelling Ave. For now let’s leave this for another day.)

These should each comprise separate, protected, and dedicated space for people walking and riding bicycles. Perhaps a six foot walkway, twelve foot two-way bikeway, along with deciduous trees on each side to provide shade and separation from the parking dessert.


These access corridors will not only provide access for people coming from outside the mall but also for people walking from cars parked out near the perimeter and from businesses located in the out lots.

If done correctly this will also help to soften the brutal aesthetic impact of the mall and parking lots on the community.


Detail of the Rosedale area from the Roseville Pathways map.

Connections — Beyond the bounds of the Mall property there is a need to link the mall to local residents and to local bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure which is sorely lacking in Roseville. (I once described Roseville as a bunch of high speed traffic lanes occasionally interrupted by places to live.)

This is much less costly than building or expanding roads but still requires some money. Perhaps Jones Lange LaSalle can contribute to development of these bike and ped ways. While Rosedale likely does contribute some money to Roseville and Ramsey County through taxes, it also imposes significant costs; direct costs for roads, maintenance, and police, and indirect costs in air, noise, and traffic pollution.

The two key missing connections to the West and Fairview Avenue, and to the Northeast for those coming from the two universities and other residential areas. Fairview already has a somewhat useable bikeway, though it needs improvement . The top priority and most expense will be a bikeway connecting to Northwestern, Bethel, and neighborhoods to the North.


I would guess that about 15-20% of the people who drive to Rosedale to work or shop live within bicycling and walking distance, and that maybe a quarter to half of these would walk or ride a bicycle if they have a safe place to do so[1].

Rosedale currently has some excess parking capacity. I don’t know that people walking and bicycling would eliminate the need for the new parking ramp, but it would likely allow them to reduce the size. More important though would be the many other benefits of allowing more people to bike and walk.

The Roseville City Council will be discussing and voting on this at their meeting on the 21st of September. Feel free to reach out to them and let them know what you think!

[1] Some people, particularly workers, also come via public (MTC and formerly Roseville Circulator, now MTC 223, 225, and 227) and private (The University of Northwestern) transit.

Walker Angell

About Walker Angell

Walker Angell is a writer who focuses mostly on social and cultural comparisons of the U.S. and Europe. He occasionally blogs at, a blog focused on everyday bicycling and local infrastructure for people who don’t have a chamois in their shorts. And on twitter @LocalMileMN

15 thoughts on “Rosedale Expansion is a Great Opportunity for Roseville

  1. Monte Castleman

    My sister went to Northwestern in the mid 1990s, so I don’t know if things have changed, but a few observations:

    1) The students are predominantly from the suburbs and beyond. They’re use to using motorized transportation to get everywhere. They’re not hardcore bicyclers and it’s winter for much of the time school is in session. They whine incessently if they so much as have to park in the far parking lot from their dorms. (They nicknamed them heaven, purgatory, and hell, depending on the distance). Typically if they wanted to go someplace a bunch would pile into the car of someone that was lucky enough to have one on campus.

    2)They don’t really shop at Rosedale. Between studies and jobs they don’t have enough time or money, to browse for new outfits at Macy’s When the left campus (and the physical gates and woods reinforced the idea that they were part of the college, not the city or the neighborhood), it would be to Target to buy some toothpaster, or the buck cinema. With the relative smallness of the schools, the physical isolation, and the religious nature there’s just not the physical interaction with the community. Some students will go weeks without leaving.

    3) Bethel already runs a shuttle service from the campus to the mall and Target.

    1. Joey SenkyrJoey Senkyr

      Every college campus predominantly has students from the suburbs and beyond. Most people are from the suburbs and beyond. But, at campuses that put in a tiny bit of effort to be not entirely bike-hostile, many students become cyclists. The first year is basically a series of major life changes. Having transportation mode be one of those changes is pretty easy.

      1. Walker AngellWalker Angell Post author

        Great point on life changes. There was something I read within the past year or two talking about how many people began riding a bicycle for transportation in uni and kept doing so after they graduated.

        It’d be great if walking or bicycling for transportation wasn’t so much as change though as a continuation of what they’d been doing all of their lives. One day maybe.

    2. Walker AngellWalker Angell Post author

      A few people at Rosedale estimated that about 40% of employees at Rosedale are UNW, Bethel or UofM students with UNW likely the highest bit.

      I know both UNW and Bethel have been working on solutions to their parking problems and both would like to put much tighter restrictions on students having cars on campus. I wonder how many students could do without cars if it was easier to ride bicycles to Rosedale, Target, and similar areas within a couple of miles of campus?

      How frequently does the Bethel shuttle run?

      It’d be interesting to know what the obesity rate is for students at the three campuses. I wonder what the health benefit would be of students bicycling for local trips rather than ride in cars or shuttles.

      Speaking of Target runs from these campuses… Students at both use the RR tracks as a route to Target and other stuff over on Lexington. It’d be really good to see a better alternative; a MUP along the RR right-of-way, or Arden Hills providing good bicycling and walking facilities along their roads. Oh wait, Arden Hills just re-did the County E and didn’t do that.

      1. Monte Castleman

        FWIW I didn’t notice any more obesity there than in the general population. Doesn’t obesity skew older and poorer, neither of which characterize the student body.

        I heard a number of students comment about “gaining weight”, but then again is that lack of exercise or how available cafeteria food is. Northwestern at least the cafeteria is in the basement of the main building, which is a long walk from the dorms.

  2. Kevin

    I think you are heavily overestimating the number of people who would use these new connections. As monte noted northwestern is extremely insular and there aren’t many students who ever leave the campus. Having a connection over 36 would be the most beneficial as there are quite a few apartments there but focusing on bus connections and especially how the ‘A’ line interacts with Rosedale is much more important.

  3. Wayne

    Something I’d like to see is dense multifamily housing integrated into our various malls around the metro. Since we’ve decided to treat most of the malls around town as transit centers and they have exactly the proximity to shopping needs that makes dense housing work better, they’re an ideal location. As much as I hate the MOA, I really wish they would add housing into their expansion plans because it would really work pretty well. It’s not like large apartment complexes don’t exist in the burbs, but they’re mostly weird isolated islands right now that still require driving to all your needs. Co-locating housing with malls makes way too much sense to have been attempted so infrequently here.

    In the case of Rosedale they definitely need to spruce up the pedestrian connections around it, but I think housing would still work very well with just a little bit of rethinking the access like the article describes.

    1. Alex CecchiniAlex Cecchini

      Southdale is doing exactly this. Add in the development going in at York/66th and a few other places in the area, and you’ve got one of the most dense commercial+residential (with quite a few office type jobs to boot) areas in the metro outside of either downtown. It’s as good of a model as we’re going to get from auto-oriented suburbs in the next 20-30 years, so we should embrace it with a few public realm upgrades.

      1. Wayne

        This is exactly what I was thinking of, although I’d prefer to see it literally attached to the mall or at least on the same block where parking lots currently are. I had typed something along the lines of it never being done here and I remembered the stuff going on at Southdale and changed it to ‘infrequently.’

        Bloomington is trying to build its little dense suburban center *near* the mall, but the connection between the two is not great. You pretty much have to hop on the train for a couple stops because it’s not at all walkable between the two.

      2. Walker AngellWalker Angell Post author

        In the NE metro we’ve really only got Rosedale and Maplewood Mall. Har-Mar is a mall but kind of a strip mall as well, quite small and currently quite empty. I’m not sure if it will survive.

        I do wonder what the opportunity is to begin moving towards more community or local urban villages for routine stuff like groceries, pharmacy, eateries, office, and residential. ??

    2. Walker AngellWalker Angell Post author

      I agree. I’m not sure land values in the NE metro would justify that though. There’s a ton of vacant and underutilized land yet available and I think that’s a bit less expensive to develop. The question then would be the ability to charge a premium for housing integrated with the mall. ??

      What I do think is feasible is for more mixed use development replacing strip malls. GMHC has done a few of these in the NE. I think the results have been mixed but partially because they did these just as we started to become really over-retailed so demand for the retail space evaporated. Hopefully we’ll see more of these.

      1. Wayne

        I know there’s not the same pressure to utilize land to its fullest out that way, but I certainly think there’s a possibility of being able to get a premium for walkable proximity to most of your daily needs and easy transit access to downtown (or midway/highland with the 84). Being a first ring suburb with some good bones (in the form of older gridded areas) and quick access to a lot of places, I think Roseville could probably support something like this.

        Also, just because there’s other empty lots doesn’t make them desirable for development or owned by the right people to do it. A lot of people complain about any development that tears down a house for apartments because empty lots or parking still exists nearby, but that’s not how development works. The only question for me is if they could give the Rosedale area enough of a makeover to actually use walkability from housing there a selling point. If you just plop down a building and do nothing for the pedestrian realm there’s no point in bothering.

  4. eric

    I’m kind of with Wayne here. I’d love to see a Rosedale with nice biking/ped paths from the perimeter, but just getting to the perimeter sucks without an auto. 36 and snelling is practically the intersection of a freeway and a highway, and B2/Snelling intersection is literally clover-leafed like a freeway exit. For peds and most cyclists Rosedale sits on a peninsula of nope.

    Way better for people to actually start their trip on-site and turn those malls into (sub)urban villages on their own. I have high hopes for the southdale area and I’d hate to see other mall areas cede that potential right before it is proven viable elsewhere.

  5. Emily Metcalfe

    I once walked to Rosedale from my home in Falcon Heights. It wasn’t so bad, walking up Fairview on the sidewalk. Until I got to Rosedale, when I had to cross a vast parking lot with no apparent even entry point for pedestrians. I completely agree with Walker on this one.

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