According to this article in the StarTribune, Apple Valley continues to pin its hopes on Bus Rapid Transit aiding growth within the city’s limits, especially the near decade-long vacancies in the Central Village “downtown” area. While Apple Valley’s leaders hope this will help everything from residential growth to new business, questions remain to be answered on how effective this new transit line will be and whether it can help business growth when most of the metro’s transit system is developed to funnel people into the city from the suburbs and not the other way around.
From the article:
An office building — one with a large employer as an anchor tenant — is high on the city’s priority list for filling some of the empty space. Nordquist said the city would like to see up to 100,000 square feet of office space, a total that likely would require an anchor tenant taking about 50,000 square feet.
“New construction is expensive, and there’s no shortage of existing space that would be cheaper for an office user,” Karkula said. Large chunks of vacant office space include the former offices of Delta Air Lines and Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Eagan and the former Brown College campus in Mendota Heights.
With so much other open development opportunities available elsewhere, Apple Valley appears to be jumping the gun on trying to build out and anticipate development needs around a transit line which hasn’t even opened yet and will remain in its infancy for years. The current transit system is oriented towards one-way travel: suburb -> city in the morning and city -> suburb in the evening. While BRT has the potential to fix this, somewhat, the City of Apple Valley is hoping that people from other areas are going to be willing to spend over an hour on transit systems with several transfers to get to Apple Valley. This will continue to be a non-starter for years to come.
What Apple Valley is currently doing here is very similar to what they did with the start of Central Village nearly 15 years ago. They are hedging bets on broken thought processes and a clear lack of understanding of how they fit into the metro area. They need to wait for BRT to mature (which it likely never will) and instead of using nearly $1 million in tax dollars to retrofit buildings now for companies which have already turned away from Apple Valley (hey guys, where was the huge press event where you admitted you lost the company you touted as the future of Apple Valley’s business sector?), the waiting game should continue for a while so you aren’t left with more unused and outdated development for business which will likely never come.
What do you think about this one? If you were located in another part of the metro would you be willing to take the LRT to BRT to work in Apple Valley? Do you think the city should be using nearly $1 million in tax dollars to build out commercial space for companies which are likely to never come? Do you think BRT will ever become the transit line the county and cities hope? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.