Outlet mall moves forward in Eagan

Paragon envisions one to two 25,000 square-foot anchors surrounded by three to four mini anchors of 10,000 to 15,000 square-feet. Pedestrian walkways will connect the shops to one another as well as to a central plaza. Segments of the walkway will be covered by a roof to break up the space. – Graphic submitted

An East Coast developer is one step closer to bringing an outlet mall to Eagan’s Cedar Grove Redevelopment District.

On Nov. 20, the City Council approved a proposal to rezone 25 acres of the 35-acre property to a planned development and to preliminarily subdivide 51 acres into two lots and four outlots. By approving the preliminary planned development, the council gave Baltimore-based Paragon Outlet the green light to build a multitenant retail outlet shopping center in Cedar Grove — located between Highway 13 and Cedar Grove Parkway.

“Even though this is a different use than we initially envisioned, I think it will be a good development,” said Mayor Mike Maguire.

Plans for the $100 million center call for an outdoor complex that includes a mix of large and small retail stores.

Paragon envisions the 408,0000 square-foot mall will have 100 different upscale stores.

Cedar Grove won’t be the firm’s first development in the Midwest. It previously constructed an outlet mall in Pleasant Prairie, Wis.

Paragon opened two outlet malls this year, in Grand Prairie, Texas, and Livermore, Calif. The Grand Prairie project is similar in scale to the Eagan project, said Kelvin Antill, development partner for Paragon.

At all of Paragon’s outlet malls, a variety of upscale retailers such as JCrew, Sax Fifth Avenue Off Fifth and Tommy Hilfiger reside in those malls.

“Many tenants follow us from one project to another,” Antill said. “We feel the key to our outlet projects is in strong tenant relationships.”

In addition to building the outlet mall, Paragon hopes to create a new street called Paragon Parkway that will separate the outlet complex from its parking structures. The parkway would create an access to the lower-level parking, while the upper level would be accessed from Cedar Grove Parkway. A ramp would connect the two levels from within the structure.

“Paragon Parkway will help reduce traffic on Cedar Parkway,” said Salem LaHood, design partner at Paragon.

Pointing to Paragon’s recent development in Livermore, Council Member Cyndee Fields said she supports the plan but has concerns about traffic on opening weekend.

Antill said the developer will make efforts to stem traffic concerns on opening day by hiring additional staff to supervise parking.

He also noted that Livermore is unique in that it struggled with congestion prior to the development.

Several council members expressed concerns about whether the project will be pedestrian-friendly.

The council has said it is committed to the principles of higher density, walkability, transportation and mixed-use development for the area.

“I would like to see more sidewalks,” Council Member Meg Tilley said. “I want it to be easy to walk over there and not get run over.”

Antill assured council members the mall will have sidewalks around the perimeter and in between the parking structures, as well as nearby bike paths.

Council members emphasized they also want the Cedar Grove Transit Station to be integrated into the project to encourage people to take public transportation to the mall rather than drive.

Jon Hohenstein, community development director, said city officials envision the project as an opportunity for visitors to take the bus between the outlet mall and the Mall of America.

Maguire expressed concerns about the mall’s appearance from major roadways.

Buildings will have varying heights, colors and facades to break up spaces, and landscaping and decorative structures will create a visually appealing complex, LaHood said.

Although most of the complex will be open, portions will have canopies with skylights, according to the developer’s plans.

Paragon intends to begin construction by spring 2013 and open the outlet mall by fall 2014.

The project is expected to bring thousands of jobs and add millions to the Eagan tax base.

An estimated 400 constructions jobs and between 1,600 and 2,000 retail jobs are expected, said LaHood.

Once finished it will add approximately $84 million to the tax base, according to city officials.