Planning commission advances southwest development

Submitted Photo A mixed-use development, The Tracks will have two public plazas, such as the one shown in this rendering.

A nearly 16-acre, mixed-use development known as The Tracks advanced toward eventual construction in southwest Minot with approval from the Minot Planning Commission Tuesday.

EPIC Companies is developing the project, which will include commercial and residential structures and two public plazas, to be built in phases.

The property is located just north of the Trinity medical complex under construction on 37th Avenue Southwest.

The proposal calls for seven midrise buildings, up to 90 feet tall, with four of the buildings having commercial on the first floor and residential above. The remaining three buildings will be residential. In total, 468 residential units are planned, along with about 53,277 square feet of commercial space. Two additional buildings to accommodate drive-through food retail are proposed.

Some other features in the plans include a video board for community announcements, a transit bus shelter and plazas that could include a winter skating rink and outdoor concert venue with covered stage.

A parking study is to be conducted to look at the adequacy of the plan, which currently has underground residential parking, a 350-space parking structure and parking lots between the buildings and 37th Avenue.

The planning commission discussed parking adequacy and pedestrian safety. Intersection traffic signals are proposed along 37th Avenue in the area of The Tracks, although a below grade or above grade crosswalk is possible if there appears to be heightened foot traffic across 37th Avenue.

“If people are potentially parking in other areas, then we would want to look at seeing if something like that is required,” Emily Huettl, assistant city engineer, said of the crosswalk options. “There’s utility conflicts that have to be worked through and making sure we have enough right of way to do these things. We would look at those potentially if the parking study pointed us in that direction.”

Planning Commissioner Tim Baumann said he initially was hesitant about placing a property with potentially 1,000 residents on one side of a busy, fast-paced street with the city’s largest employer on the other side.

“I would love to see something that provides uninterrupted, pedestrian-first access between these two projects. And I think it would be a boon for the rest of the business community on the north side of 37th to have that,” Baumann said. “I just want to throw my support behind that concept or idea. I’ve seen it happen in other communities.”

Blake Nybakken, chief operating officer with EPIC, mentioned the underground pedestrian crossing at EPIC’s West Fargo project, The Lights.

“We will be willing to explore any options so we can make that a safe intersection,” he said of The Tracks’ location.

In terms of residential density, he noted the apartment configuration is split between one-bedroom or studios and two-bedroom units, with a small number of three-bedroom units.

EPIC plans to apply through the city’s Tax Increment Financing program to help fund public improvements, such as the parking structure and plazas. A TIF is the difference on taxes collected pre-construction and post-construction, with that difference invested into the project through bond payments. The Minot City Council would need to approve the TIF and the planning commission’s approval recommendation and conditions.


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