Council approves Waconia Ford renovations, Freshwater church plan

By Greta Sowles

New building plans and renovations to existing buildings were the talk of the Waconia City Council meeting on June 19. The meeting lasted over 90 minutes, as the council discussed and approved five different site plans or variances, an audited statement for 2012 and documents related to Ridgeview’s strategic alliance with Allina.
Freshwater Community Church, which will replace the Dueber’s Variety Store on 1st Street, approved a renovation plan that will include a 275-seat sanctuary, areas for education, offices and gathering space. The new Waconia church will make Freshwater a multi-site church, meaning the Waconia campus will have similar look, feel, music, kids programming and teaching as the original campus in St. Bonifacius. The only difference is that the teaching at the Waconia site will be via video.
“The multi-site model will enable Freshwater to continue to help people grow in their faith and feel connect with their community,” said head pastor John Braland.
Church officials had hoped to construct a new entrance to the building on its eastern side. However, because Waconia Economic Development Authority (EDA) property begins immediately east of the church’s eastern wall, plans to build this additional entrance, which would most likely include building articulation and awnings, would be difficult, as it would encroach on the adjacent public parking lot.
Initially, the council and EDA reviewed and approved the plan for a new eastern entrance, on the condition that a walkway be added for safety purposes. Upon reconsideration and review with city engineers, the walkway would result in a much larger loss of parking spaces – approximately 12-14 stalls, verses the anticipated 3-4 stalls. This created conflict with the agreement the EDA has with the movie theatre owner that requires the city to provide parking space within certain proximity to the movie theatre and to replace spaces lost.
The new plan suggests a concrete apron in front of the new doorway covered by an awning and the restriping of the public parking lot. Although the council expressed concerns over traffic flow and parking in this eastern lot, it did approve the renovated site plan on the condition that an encroachment agreement be made between the church and the EDA, which would protect the city should the EDA sell the lot in the future.
Providing all goes according to plan, Freshwater will launch its Waconia site in October 2013.
The new entrance at Freshwater Church wasn’t the only renovation plan to come before the council during the meeting. Waconia Ford on Highway 5 is looking to renovate its existing sales and service facility after receiving funding from Ford. The primary renovations are on the north side of the building and include the demolition of the existing showroom, which will be replaced with an 8,000 square foot showroom.
The new addition will also include expansion of offices, conference and break rooms and the addition of a service write-up area, which is currently located outside of the main building.
Among other materials proposed for the renovation, a new aluminum composite material (ACM) Rain Screen Metal Panel system, which was previously not a material approved by the city, will be attached mainly in the horizontal direction and vertically along the main entrance the north side.
An architect representing the project described the importance of the use of ACM on the exterior of the building, suggesting that it was essential if you “wanted to be a Ford dealer and be in compliance.”
The renovations also include a new 10×10-foot glass overhead service door for vehicular entrance to the service and repair station, which will be surrounded by a grey colored material called Alcoa Architectural Metal Panel. There will also be two new Ford logo signs and additional wall signage, including the words “Waconia” and “Service” on the north elevation wall.
Only 30 percent of the west and east elevations will be renovated and the south elevation will remain virtually unchanged. No new landscaping has been proposed with the site plan, although Ford has agreed to work with the city to bring its plant back to the original development site requirement of 64 trees. There are currently only five or six coniferous trees near the rear of the property. Lighting and the existing trash enclosure will also remain unchanged, and there is no increase or decrease in impervious surface proposed.
In other matters:
• Another building site plan for a micro-distillery business on 8th Street near Highway 5 was approved during the meeting. Phase 1 of this site plan includes a 7,590 square foot production building and a 2,100 square foot barrelhouse building for storage or warehousing of the distilled product. Phase 2 includes a 1,080 square foot tasting room and kitchen, decreasing the original production building to 6,510 square feet, and an outdoor patio area. The micro-distillery plans to focus on the production of spirits – vodka, gin and whiskey – and hopes to eventually bring over 30,000 people to the Waconia area after a few years of business.
• A site plan was approved for HomeTown Bank, which will remodel the former Snyder’s Pharmacy building on Marketplace Drive. Small building renovations, including new signage, new aluminum windows, the replacement of an existing steel door in the middle of the south elevation and a new metal canopy above the doorway, were also proposed. Traffic circulation proposed will also accommodate for a drive-thru ATM.
• Also at the meeting, the audited statement for 2012 was approved after reporting a clean audit that went smoothly, the Waterford 5th Addition Preliminary Plat request was approved, and documents for Ridgeview Medical Center’s strategic alliance with Allina were approved.
• The council’s next meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 1.