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Designs for new Bielenberg Gardens near Woodbury-Cottage Grove border stir discussion

Designs for a new grocery store-anchored retail development aren't as vibrant, pedestrian friendly and out of the ordinary as one Woodbury advisory commissioner had thought.

Bill Betten said Bielenberg Gardens plans that came before the Woodbury Planning Commission last week were "disappointing" and not in line with the original vision of the retail area that lies within the new mixed-use Urban Village development near the Woodbury-Cottage Grove border.

United Properties submitted the proposal for Bielenberg Gardens with 11 lots and the 68,000-square-foot grocery store with an adjacent retail building. Developers say they're planning for a coffee shop, gas station, a bank and other everyday services to serve the growing southern part of Woodbury and northern Cottage Grove.

Architects say the design of the retail development with trees, plants, prairie-style light fixtures and large patios will reinforce the "garden theme" and encourage the walkability factor within the development as well as nearby Bielenberg Sports Center.

But Betten said the scattered buildings and their smaller sizes don't seem to favor a new idea he was hoping would be the "gem" of Woodbury.

"I'd like to see this something special," he said at the Aug. 26 Planning Commission meeting. "This feels to me like more of the same."

But Betten was the only member out of four attending to vote against the plans, giving the developers the go-ahead to start work on the first phase of the project -- the grocery store.

Woodbury City Planner Eric Searles said the Urban Village master plan, which was approved in 2011 for the entire quadrant south of Bailey Road and west of Radio Drive, allows for smaller buildings as well as larger ones as long as they fit the "village" theme.

"Although the buildings are small, they do meet the intent of the ordinance," he said.

City Council Member Christopher Burns, who attended the meeting as a council liaison, said once the entire Urban Village comes to life with townhomes, senior units and parks, the retail development will eventually match the original vision.

He also said the southern portion of the city can benefit from everyday services that won't necessarily compete with what's already there in the north.

As a frequent Bielenberg Sports Center attendee, Burns said he can see the proposed pedestrian paths will be easy to follow from the center to the retailers of Bielenberg Gardens.

United Properties has partnered with Jerry's Enterprises, Inc. to work on the grocery store. An opening date has not been set yet.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.