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Arguably the most out-of-date building along the busiest stretch of France Avenue in Edina is a step closer to demolition.

The Edina City Council gave the preliminary OK on Tuesday to a land use plan that would bring a four-building, mixed-use development to the Macy's Furniture Gallery site. The council is expected to take a final vote in August.

The "earth-sheltered" building currently on the site opened in the late 1970s. It is sunk into the ground and surrounded on two sides by parking lots.

"All of us have been driving by this site for years and looking at that bunker," Mayor Jim Hovland said Tuesday night during a four-hour council meeting largely devoted to the site.

"This is one of the best pieces of property in town," Hovland said of the land between France Avenue and the Edina Promenade.

Developer Enclave Companies plans four buildings for the site with a mix of housing, offices, retail and restaurants. The tallest will be an 11-story building on the southwest corner of the property. Three others will rise seven stories.

The development could cost up to $350 million by the time it is completed in 2028. It includes more than 500 apartments and 49 condos, with 10% of the units meeting the city's affordable housing guidelines.

Each building has a parking ramp, and there's minimal street parking.

Developer Enclave Properties proposed the redevelopment of the former Macy's Furniture Gallery site along France Avenue in Edina. The project includes four buildings with housing, offices and retail.
Developer Enclave Properties proposed the redevelopment of the former Macy's Furniture Gallery site along France Avenue in Edina. The project includes four buildings with housing, offices and retail.

To put buildings that tall on the property, the developer needs the council to approve "planned unit development" zoning, which allows exemptions from some setback and other requirements. It also gives city officials more say in design and appearance of the structures.

"I think this is exactly what the Southdale plan had in mind for this spot," Council Member Carolyn Jackson said of the city's comprehensive plan for the area. "It is a place where we can have super density. I think this will be a real benefit to our community."

Enclave Companies and other partners on the project have been working since 2022 through the city's approval process, which includes community engagement and detailed reviews from the city planning commission and council.

Yet, the plan is not without critics.

Residents have concerns about the height and size of the buildings, saying they will not fit in with the surrounding community. They also worry about increased traffic in the already congested area.

"We only have one opportunity to get it right," said Judy Buckley, who lives nearby, during a June 4 meeting.

"It is such a beautiful area. It could be better for the neighborhood; better for Edina," Buckley said after Tuesday's vote.

Residents have raised questions about whether the project will receive tax increment financing (TIF), which uses future property taxes to cover some of the costs of construction and public infrastructure.

Patrick Brama, of Enclave, said the project would not be "financially feasible" without TIF and that city leaders have discretion over what types of expenses are eligible for the tax break.

The redevelopment plan includes a path between the buildings to connect the promenade with France Avenue. City leaders eventually want a bridge or tunnel for pedestrians to safely cross the busy street.