‘Something beautiful, timeless’

The new developers of a proposed “lifestyle center” in Chanhassen envison a “beautiful, timeless” development that will serve as a gateway to Chanhassen on the southwestern edge of the city.

The Chanhassen City Council Nov. 28 reviewed preliminary concepts for the development and unanimously approved moving forward with a review of traffic and infrastructure needs of the project that could become the largest mixed-use development in the city’s history.

The lifestyle center concept is proposed for about 120 acres of land at the intersection of Lyman Boulevard and Powers Boulevard near Highway 212. It could potentially include retail, office, medical and high-density residential units.

The current development team is led by Bahram Akradi, CEO of Chanhassen-based Lifetime Fitness, and includes partners with ties to the southwest suburbs. The current development team has control of 120 acres whereas a previous proposal at the site only included about 80 acres.


‘Push the envelope’

Akradi told Chanhassen officials that there is a lot of interest in the concept but that he wants to create a project that will push the envelope as far as the market will bear.

“We will push the project as far as we can push it,” he said. “It will be the top end of what the market will allow.”

Akradi said he wants to build a beautiful development that far exceeds city requirements. He said he envisions quality architecture, pedestrian-friendly streets and a feel like “walking around Vail.”

Akradi said the development team wants to create a “place that makes people want to come and hang out, for more than just shopping.”

Chanhassen city officials unanimously approved moving forward with an Alternative Urban Areawide Review plan that will examine traffic, infrastructure and environmental issues. Councilors also provided general feedback on the proposed mixed-use development.


By the numbers

The proposed concept envisions 435,000 square feet of commercial businesses, 40,000 square feet of office space, a 250-room hotel, 300 units of market-rate apartments and 100 units of senior living.

Akradi said while there has been a lot of interest in the concept, specific tenants haven’t been identified. There will be multiple opportunities for the development to be reviewed as it moves forward.

Already two neighborhood meetings have been conducted and concerns have been expressed about a range of items, including traffic patterns and safety. Chanhassen councilors said they were open to allowing the market to determine what businesses would locate in the development.


Grocery store?

Only Councilor Bethany Tjornhom said she was opposed to allowing a grocery store to be part of the development. In a previous lifestyle proposal by a different development group, councilors were against a grocery store and movie theater being considered for the project because they would compete with existing businesses in downtown Chanhassen.

Akradi said a grocery store likely would be an important draw for the development, and that it was important to have the right synergy at the development. He said if the city denies a grocery store, it would likely be built nearby in potentially a different community.

Darren Lazan, a member of the Level 7 Development team, said multiple restaurants and a medical facility are envisioned as part of the site.

A wetland area in the middle of the property also likely will be altered. The wetland changes will be part of the AUAR review.

Lazan said the goal is to get infrastructure reviews completed by early next year with grading and infrastructure improvements also completed in 2017. While it is possible stores could open in 2017, Lazan said it is likely openings would begin in 2018 and be phased in over a few years.

Although the conceptual review isn’t binding, the goal of the review was to ensure that the city and the developer are generally on the same page regarding the direction of the project.

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