New library, downtown projects stall

Rosemount welcomes Robert Trail Library, commercial development stagnant

by Jessica Harper
Thisweek Newspapers

As 2009 ends, the city of Rosemount has experienced a year of new beginnings, hardship, disappointment, sorrow and joy.

The community welcomed a new library — a long sought-after amenity — but also saw commercial development downtown falter.

Following is a look back at these stories and others that made news in the past year.

 

New library opens

Rosemount also turned a new page that month when the Robert Trail Library opened on Feb. 9 at 14395 South Robert Trail.

The 22,240-square-foot structure features open spaces, a children’s area, study rooms, two conference rooms and a license center.

The building also features booths and plush chairs in its teen and young adult section, and a 12-foot-tall lime green castle in the children’s section.

In addition to its Irish theme, the $5.5 million building contains environmentally-green features such as energy-efficient lights, large windows to allow for natural light, and carpets made of recycled materials.

Rosemount vs. MVTA

In February, Rosemount city officials battled with the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority over its services.

City officials threatened to opt out of MVTA to create their own system.

Council members said they were frustrated that Rosemount residents receive fewer services than other members of MVTA, which provides public transportation for Rosemount, Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Lakeville and Savage.

At the time, Rosemount’s only services consisted of a small park-and-ride lot at the Rosemount Community Center.

City officials decided to give the MVTA one last chance, when its board of directors agreed it would work to add buses and create a park-and-ride facility in downtown Rosemount.

Plans include 100 parking spaces and a small shelter. The MVTA approved a $10,690 contract in April with URS Corp. to create a conceptual design plan for the park-and-ride.

The city of Rosemount and MVTA also jointly filed for a federal grant, which is under review by the Metropolitan Council.

Rocky starts

City officials are not the only ones facing frustrating times.

The economic downturn created roadblocks for several developers in Rosemount.

Kraus Anderson, a Minneapolis-based real estate and construction company, had several setbacks in its plans to build South Robert Commons on the former Genz-Ryan Plumbing and Heating site.

In April, the company was forced to scale back the 17,260-square-foot project because it was unable to receive the necessary financing.

Kraus Anderson planned instead to break the project into two phases in which a 12,168-square-foot building would be built to house a HealthEast clinic, and the rest would be added as financing permits.

In May, HealthEast backed out of its plans to open a clinic in the complex, leaving Kraus Anderson without a tenant.

Len Kaiser, director of business development for HealthEast, said the health care provider decided to look elsewhere because it was having difficulty finding a physician for that location.

Kaiser said the decision was not financially motivated.

As a result, the project, which Kraus Anderson has spent an estimated $100,000 on, remains at a standstill.

Although construction plans are delayed, Rosemount city officials agreed to help move along plans to demolish the former Genz-Ryan building.

The council approved a proposal in September asking the Metropolitan Council for a $275,000 grant to demolish the existing buildings and reconstruct sanitary sewer lines on the property.

The application is still being reviewed by the Met Council.

While Kraus Anderson struggles to get South Robert Commons off the ground, Stonebridge Companies opened Waterford Commons in July in downtown Rosemount.

The 136,000-square-foot building consists of 108 residential apartments and 13,000 square feet of commercial space.

Many of the high-end apartments, which feature spacious rooms, granite counters, stainless steel appliances and washers and dryers, have been filled.

The building also has an outdoor pool, lounge area, Wi-Fi Internet access, computer room and mini gym.

Stonebridge has yet to fill its commercial space.

Dance club dreams

Waterford Commons is not the only commercial space to remain empty in downtown Rosemount.

The former Irish Loon and Big Daddy’s Diner location remains unused after plans for a teen dance club were sidetracked this year.

Local businessman Skylar Rekstad announced in June that he planned to create a 4,200-square-foot venue called Solaris Night Club for teens and young adults ages 16 to 20 in the space.

However, city officials were concerned about the capacity, lighting, supervision and the proposed club’s hours of 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. surpassed the city’s midnight curfew for people under age 18.

Rekstad said he would address the issues, but council members continued to be concerned about enforcement.

As a result, the council passed a new ordinance in August that regulates clubs, pool halls and arcades.

Rekstad withdrew his plans several weeks later, saying he felt targeted by city officials.

Leprechaun Days

The summer of 2009 was a time of fun in the sun when Rosemount residents gathered to celebrate Leprechaun Days.

The 11-day celebration was filled with old and new festivities such as the annual Shamrock Film Festival, parade, music, craft fair and hot air balloon rides.

Soldier dies

This year was marked by sorrow when a Rosemount soldier was killed in the line of duty.

U.S. Army Cpl. Ben Kopp died at age 21 on July 18 at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., after being injured from gunfire in Afghanistan.

Kopp enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after graduating from Rosemount High School in 2006.

He became a U.S. Army Ranger rifleman in 2007.

During his time as a Ranger, Kopp earned various medals, including the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Parachutist badge.

After his death, he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal of Valor, a Purple Heart and a Meritorious Service Medal.

In addition to sacrificing his life for his country and fellow Rangers, Kopp saved the life of a 57-year-old woman who received his donated heart.

At a memorial service at Rosemount High School, friends and family remembered Kopp as a generous and loyal person.

Kopp was the only child of Jill Stephenson of Rosemount and Duane Kopp of Minnetonka.

Serial bank robber

As the year came to a close, a serial bank robber hit the area.

A total of seven banks, including First State Bank of Rosemount, were robbed at gunpoint this fall by a bandana-clad bandit.

The robbery on Oct. 21 was the first in First State Bank of Rosemount’s 100-year history.

Steven Lee Olson, 47, of South St. Paul was charged in December for the alleged robberies.

Olson is accused of stealing a total of $7,984 in cash.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

What’s to come

Looking ahead to 2010, Rosemount has much in store.

City officials hope construction begins on the park-and-ride facility in downtown as soon as possible.

If approved, federal funding for the project would be provided in 2013 and 2014.

Kraus Anderson and Stonebridge Companies plan to continue their search for tenants.

While developers fall on hard times, most Rosemount taxpayers can expect a small drop in the city portion of their property taxes.

The council approved a final 2010 budget of $17.05 million, which is a $228,790 (1.32 percent) decrease from 2009.

Although the budget was reduced, city services and personnel were not cut as a result.

The city will still have enough money to maintain soccer fields at Dakota County Technical College and update the former St. Joseph Church.

The council approved a $288,145 (2.52 percent) reduction in its payable 2010 property tax levy, setting it at $11.1 million.

For most homeowners, this means the city’s portion of their property taxes will go down because property values in Rosemount are also expected to drop 9.02 percent on average.

E-mail Jessica Harper at:
jessica.harper@ecm-inc.com

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