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Bringing natural and built environments into harmony

Hopkins development highlights power of light rail partnerships to shape community investment, growth

Light rail projects present opportunities for communities to think ambitiously about their future. They drive investment and development in potentially transformative ways. Hennepin County’s Southwest Community Works partnership was started to bring cities and other partners together to guide investment along the METRO Green Line Extension to align with community visions for the future.

One example of such partnerships in action is taking shape at 325 Blake Road in Hopkins, near the future Blake Road LRT station. The City of Hopkins is working with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District to transform a 17-acre site where a cold storage warehouse once stood. Working with development partner Alatus, partners are moving ahead with a bold vision that brings major development into harmony with the natural environment.

“This is a transformative project for Hopkins that leverages the benefits of light rail to drive investment in our community,” said Kersten Elverum, Director of Planning, City of Hopkins. “It was made possible through deep partnership and collaborative work that happened through Hennepin County’s Southwest Community Works program to develop a clear vision for development in this area.”
The project includes:
  • Phased development of 833 units of varying types of housing, including 116 units affordable at 30%-60% AMI, 112 senior co-op units, and 33 townhome units with variable pricing.
  • 9,000 square feet of commercial space
  • 9,000 square feet for two restaurants
  • About 4 acres to be maintained by MCWD for creek restoration, stormwater treatment, and natural public space.

"The 325 Blake Road project truly represents our vision of bringing natural and built environments into harmony. With the help of many partners, we've taken advantage of opportunities to integrate innovative natural resource improvements into a web of transit-oriented, mixed-use development that promotes thriving communities,” said Michael Hayman, MCWD’s Project Planning Manager. 

The watershed district anticipates that in addition to revitalizing the creek in this area and making it a valuable community asset, the project will:

  • Treat 270 acres of stormwater
  • Remove 180 pounds of phosphorous annually 
  • Prevent 90,000 pounds of algae growth

The project broke ground on construction of the first building in September 2022.

  • Hennepin County has supported each stage of this project, including: 
  • Early planning around the Blake Road Station area through the SWLRT Community Works Investment Framework 
  • Blake Road Corridor Planning ($100,000 in SWCW funding)
  • Two Transit Oriented Development grants totally $1.1 million for demolition of the cold storage buildings and to support the new development
  • Two Environmental Response Fund grants totaling about $310,000 

Learn more about the 325 Blake Road Development on the City of Hopkins website.

Learn more about the creek restoration efforts on the MCWD website.