The current plan by Garden Commercial Properties is to create two buildings along the lower bend of the Third River, four stories each with a parking deck beneath, to serve as luxury one or two-bedroom apartments. The developer has said that the properties could begin as rental units and potentially become condominiums when the real estate market improves. In the process, about two dozen back office and warehouse businesses were given eviction notices in preparation for the demolition.
The planned 300-unit development has sparked controversy at many town council meetings. Reminded that she approved the bill when it first came up (along with the rest of the council), Councilor Janice Litterio replied that the full scope of the project was not made clear. “I feel snookered,” she said when summarizing her traffic concerns. There was also much debate regarding the planned 30 year tax abatement negotiated with the developer, Zygmunt Wilf, the owner of the Minnesota Vikings, who has himself been the subject of controversy.
Commenting on the news of a $100,000 grant received for studying the causes and cures of flooding along Bloomfield’s segment of the Third River, Councilman Nick Joanow asserted that
You don’t build on a floodplain. There’s a cost/benefit analysis that needs to be understood …. Homes along that river have lost 5 to 10 feet of their property due to riverbank erosion. There are homes that are consistently flooding…the water has to go somewhere.
He referenced the township’s 2002 Master Plan which included the Army Corps of Engineers conclusion that
The increase in the intensity and number of 100 year and 500 year flood events can be attributed to the way that development has occurred in Bloomfield. Impervious surface coverage along stream corridors in wetlands and floodplain areas leaves stormwater with no place to go. Generally these areas would absorb and filter the waters acting as a natural detention basin for the surrounding community. In Bloomfield, storm water travels through streets, driveways, and sometimes basements, rather than vegetated riparian corridors and wetlands.
Demolition of the structures on the north side of the site is planned to be completed by New Years Day.
Geoff Gove is a realtor at Century 21 Van Der Wende who blogs at EcoRealty.