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Maple Grove Voice

Pedestrian Plaza at The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes Under Review

Aug 14, 2018 08:14PM ● By Doug Erlien

Graphic provided at Aug. 6 Maple Grove City Council meeting. (graphic provided in Maple Grove City Council agenda)

The Maple Grove City Council voted in their Aug. 6 meeting to approve the Streetscape Modification PUD Concept Plan which serves as the first step in what could slightly change the look of The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes.

The proposal presented at the Aug. 6 meeting outlines the removal of the pedestrian plaza.

The approval of the Streetscape Modification PUD Concept Plan authorized The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes to move forward to provide additional plans that would save some of the amenities. It did not give the authorization for the proposed changes. The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes would be required to present a final plan at a future meeting at which the council could vote for or against moving forward. 

 “We really feel like this is a critical time for the center,” The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes Marketing Director Jennifer Zafft said at the Aug. 6 Maple Grove City Council meeting. “We have a lot of vacancy and talking about new concepts coming to the market, there’s just not an interest in this area. There’s not the visibility, there’s not the accessibility.”

The proposed plan outlines potential changes to the pedestrian mall located at the middle of the property and replacing it with a road that will allow traffic to flow through -  
"...they have found the current arrangement not conducive to leasing the spaces around the pedestrian plaza area, and feel that having vehicular access through the site and adjacent parking will make the adjacent spaces more attractive to potential tenants," Maple Grove city staff wrote in a memo to the council. The concept would create an additional 41 parking spots, street trees and other modifications giving shoppers of the businesses direct access to the stores.  

“While we have been able to remain profitable during prom season, we struggle with June-November passer-by traffic is minimal,"
Rubi Jubi Owner Melony Rios said in a letter to the Maple Grove City Council. “More concerning are the number of stores around us that have closed and sit empty. When you look at the middle of the mall, it is almost de-incentivizing to walk that direction because it looks empty.”

At the center of the issue lies the unique fountain and courtyard area which during the summer months allows shoppers the ability to enjoy events put on by The Shoppes. Although the plan calls for a two way road, that road would be able to be closed down to allow the unique events to continue.

According to documents presented at the meeting, there are currently six empty storefronts in the pedestrian portion of the mall with several others that have made it known to mall management that they could be moving out if changes aren’t made.

“You told us that Portillos was going to come and kind of save the Shoppes and that hasn’t worked out,” Council Member Kristy Barnett said at the Aug. 6 meeting. “Now you’re asking us to take something that was very important to our community and completely tank that out.”

“It doesn’t make me happy, but I also know that there is a real reality here staring us in the face that if we don’t do something to allow that streetscape to exist that this shopping mall might be one of the malls that is shuttered nationwide,” Maple Grove Mayor Mark 
Steffenson said. ”I think that we have to realize that we may have to make some changes to something that’s wonderful if we are going to prevent the very bad from happening. I’m deeply concerned if we don’t, five, ten years from now we can all be out there operating a bulldozer because the place is gone.”

Video Begins at 1:12:05

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