Stuck Between A Rock and a Tall Place

The Wayzata City Council has extended a moratorium on new construction over 30 feet. At the same time, the Wayzata Bay Center calls for plans of 4 stories. It seems difficult to gage the City Council’s intentions at this time because it seems the Wayzata Bay Center Development is gaining momentum in all aspects except with regard to building height. The truth of the matter is that Wayzata needs the Bay Center Development to go through to survive as a retail community–and the civic leaders know it. The decline in the retail sector has been well documented through many sources, and this would be a tremendous shot in the arm for retailers both located at the Bay Center and those who are not. It will bring more people from Plymouth, Minnetonka, Orono, Mound, etc. for the products and services added through the development. The city leaders want to approve, the people want it from what I read in print and online.

The problem with all this is that Wayzata is supposed to be a quaint lakeside village. Quaint means small and slow moving, and while these objectives could probably be reached with the development being approved, it sends mixed messages to property owners, developers and builders around town. How can the council say to it’s residents and businesses that 30 feet tall and or 3 stories is the tallest you can build everywhere in Wayzata–except at the Bay Center. YOU CAN”T, or at least it is going to be very tough to make all sides see why this is OK and can happen.

There are a number of projects all over town where the shovels and dirt are flying, and you can be sure that they would have liked to have built four or five stories if they could have. It goes back to Orwell’s Animal Farm: All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal. The more equal animal here is the Bay Center site. I wouldn’t want to be Andrew Humphrey and his band of jolly decision makers, because they can’t win this fight. Approve it and you piss off other developers and business people in the community who can’t build that high, and leave the City open to litigation to build to 4 stories. Shoot it down and you kill the heart of Wayzata and leave the possibility for development at the site seriously damaged, having turned away three suitors in as many years.

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Daniel Gustafson & Elisha Gustafson Realtors