New plan for Viking Lakes: no second hotel, town of Eagan uses the plaza

The updated plan for the development of Viking Lakes, the area around the Minnesota Viking headquarters and training facilities, removes a second hotel, removes sustainability guidelines, and adds four days to the town of Eagan for organize events in the square.

The new plan will guide approximately five years of construction by MV Ventures, the Viking-owned Minnesota development arm, on the 200-acre campus near Dodd Road and Interstate 494.

“Getting it right is very important to us,” said Don Becker, executive vice president of MV Ventures.

Development is halfway there, city officials said. The city approved previous plans in 2016, and the NFL team moved their headquarters there in 2018.

The Omni Viking Lakes Hotel opened last fall during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 14-story, 320-room hotel features the Kyndred Hearth Restaurant run by James Beard Award-winning Chef Ann Kim.

The updated plan no longer calls for another hotel because “we did everything we wanted” with the existing hotel, Becker said.

The new plan also reconfigures housing on the site, eliminating mid-density housing in favor of all high-density rental housing – mostly four-story apartments with garages underneath. The first 261 apartments will open in September.

City officials are excited to be able to use Viking Lakes plaza four days a year for concerts, arts events and other gatherings, said Jill Hutmacher, Eagan’s director of community development, adding that details don’t ‘had not been specified before.

Eagan City Council approved the plan in April by a 4-1 vote. Council member Mike Supina said removing the sustainability elements was disappointing enough that he voted against it.

Sustainability design guidelines included the use of renewable energy, permeable paving, underground stormwater retention ponds, and rainwater harvesting for irrigation.

“I’m afraid taking everything out of the 2016 deal sends the wrong message when it comes to our commitment to sustainability,” Supina said. “For such a large and visible development, kind of a landmark in Eagan, I would really love to see… environmental or sustainability provisions included.”

MV Ventures officials said they haven’t canceled the use of Earth-friendly components. But some, like permeable pavements, didn’t make sense once authorities learned more on the ground. A clay soil prevented water from seeping into the soil, which meant that the pavers were not viable, and the site had enough room for the stormwater ponds on the surface.

“We try to work really hard to accomplish a lot of things that have been economically difficult,” Becker said. “We’re not saying for a second that sustainability isn’t important to us.”

The new plan also revealed that developers cut down 2,900 trees instead of the 1,700 allowed. The gap means that MV Ventures must plant 1,200 trees.

Becker said the additional logging happened due to plan changes and ranking challenges.

Tom O’Neill, who lives near the training center, said he was “a little surprised they had big equipment, like excavators, cutting down trees 30 to 40 feet”.

But the Vikings are good neighbors, said he and his wife, Mary.

Board member Cyndee Fields said that when a developer starts a project it is typical to remove trees and replant them later.

Fields said she supports the updated Viking Lakes plan. “Basically it’s just a pleasure to see this develop,” she said.

Erin Adler • 612-673-1781