Dec. 10, Xcel Energy presented plans to the City of Minneapolis’ Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) Committee of the Whole for a new operations center to be built next to its Riverside power plant at 3356 Marshall Street NE. The three-story, 85,000-sq.-ft. building will replace Xcel’s current operations center near the Minneapolis Farmers Market downtown. The building will also include offices and an auditorium for employee training. Xcel’s electrical-distribution control center will also relocate to Northeast; field and construction crews will continue to operate out of the downtown location, which Xcel plans to redevelop.
The new building will be built of pre-fabricated concrete panels and glass. In a memo, CPED Planner Aaron Hanauer noted that one elevation drawing shows a large blank wall. “CPED is understanding that some flexibility is needed to allow blank walls for security at this location, however, more details are needed to show how the applicant intends to break up the long blank wall,” he wrote. The operations center is staffed 24/7 and workers there monitor electrical distribution for the City of Minneapolis and dispatch response personnel for any emergency outages or electrical utility repairs.
The new building will be set back 300 feet from the Mississippi River, maintaining the river’s wild look in that area. Xcel said it plans to put in more pollinator-friendly plantings as well. The building will be fronted by a 30-ft. landscaped yard.
CPED’s primary objection to the project seems to be the proposed 295-space parking lot. More landscaping around it could be required, and the planning department asks that Xcel incorporate some sort of art at the intersection of St. Anthony Parkway and Marshall Street. The site already has a stormwater retention pond.
Although a driveway is proposed for the parkway side of the building, the main entrance to the facility would be on the Marshall side.
The initial plan review encouraged Xcel to build a sidewalk along Marshall and to work with Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis to construct a 10-ft.-wide bike trail along Marshall, too. To initiate the project, Xcel must get a conditional use permit to increase the allowed building height in that area from two and a half stories to three, and a site plan review must be conducted.
Below: (Graphic provided by City of Minneapolis)