Walden Plan on brief ‘pause,’ proposal for 300 units east of Hastings gets council committee review

Mint Development’s national retailer won’t be named until later this year


Plans for the large-scale Walden at Hastings development on the new southern border of Hastings have hit a slight delay and are expected to start working their way through public meetings in May.
Hastings Community Development Director John Hinzman reported to members of the Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority (HEDRA) at its Thursday, April 11 meeting that final plans for city submission are still being developed. He also said plans are progressing for a large development off Hwy. 55 on the city’s west side.
Walden at Hastings plans had been expected to be on city planning commissioners table in March, Hinzman previously said. However, revisions are being made to “deem the application complete.”
Walden is being billed as “the first true lifecycle community in the Twin City region.”
Earlier this year, the Hastings City Council reviewed findings of an environmental assessment on the 71-acre site and passed a resolution stating that no Environmental Impact Statement is necessary for the development to proceed.
The 71.5-acre site is being developed by Land Equity, LLC, which plans to purchase the land on the east side of Hwy. 316 at Michael Avenue from Best Development, which has owned the sites for more than two decades.
A preliminary plat for the development shows 450 units, and plans are to develop it in two phases, with site preparations this year.
A 17.5-acre portion of the plan that are Sand Coulee would be donated to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the DNR has responded it is eager to take control of that portion of the property.
Walden at Hastings is planned as “life-cycle housing,” meaning housing for every stage of life. The development would have trails and park-like amenities, according to plans. The environmental study states, “The project aims to incorporate family living in one development. Whether a person is owning their first, having their second child, living their active lives in their senior years or needs assistance and care, they are welcome. The goal is to have families living and thriving in the same development.”
Phase one would include 54 twin homes, 68 townhomes, 170 apartment units, 24 senior units, 80 active senior living units and 80 assisted living units.
Phase two is set for 2029 and would include 55 single family homes.
Land Equity plans for the development to be all rental units, with rents in the neighborhood of $2,000-$4,000 monthly.
The city approved annexation of the land into the city last spring.
Neighbors of the proposed development have raised concern about traffic from the development on Hwy. 316. A traffic study completed predicts that the development will generate a total of 2,709 trips each day, with 180 during morning peak hour and 226 in the afternoon peak hour upon full development. In addition to Michael Avenue, there will be a secondary access point 1,300 feet to the east of Michael Avenue.
Based on Minnesota Department of Transportation guidance, there will be 300-foot left and right turn lanes for Hwy. 316 approaches to Michael Avenue, and a 300-foot right turn lane for the westbound Hwy. 316 approach to the secondary road.
The traffic study states that with the new traffic, “All study intersections operate acceptably under their existing intersection control.”
“Nothing is scheduled so far as for Planning Commission Review, maybe in May,” Hinzman said of the development plans. “I talked to the developer. He’s working through some specifics. He may have some specific purchasers that may be looking at so modifications. So, he’s going through the land sale, and he’s moving forward at this point. So, a pause I would call it at this point. I don’t know how long that might be.”
On the east side of town, the city’s council’s Planning Committee, comprise of councilmembers Jen Fox, DawnMarie Vihrachoff and Lisa Leifeld reviewed a proposal for a 300-unit development on the Augustine property, just west of the city limits. Hinzman said it’s located east of Jacob Avenue between Hwy. 55 and 15th Street.
“I had a concept plan come forward on that one for the development of about 200 housing units on that site, a combination of single family, townhome and villa home sites,” Hinzman told HEDRA members. “We have a Planning Committee of council meeting earlier this week. There seemed to be some general support for an annexation application when that would come forward in the future. There has been nothing stated as far as when that might occur, but they have hired a land broker that put this development together and is shopping that to entitles who may come forward with annexation in the near future. So, interest continues there, which is great.”

Mint Development plans
HEDRA last month approved the sale of a 3.94-acre parcel of land to Mint Development of Hastings, which had offered $850,000 for the parcel. The property is located east of Pleasant Hill Drive across from West View Mall. Mint is working with CBRE, a commercial real estate firm, to bring a national retailer to the site.
Hinzman said Mint Development plans to submit a comprehensive plan amendment and rezoning application within the month with a site plan to follow later this year.
Hinzman was asked when the national retailer eyeing the site will be named. He said likely not until site plans are unveiled.
“I wouldn’t be surprised that the entity would not be announced during this first round of the comprehensive plan and rezoning. It sounds like when they bring forward the site plan, which is going to be the building itself,” Hinzman said. “It appears at that point it would be made public, so I would say later on this year.”