Call Center development raises concern

Call Center development raises concern Click to Enlarge Photo:

Jun 10, 2013 at 8:09 pm

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KNSI) - Amid frustration from residents, the St. Cloud City Council has temporarily moved to hold off on amending a resolution toward the construction of a 43,000 square foot office building in a south side residential neighborhood. 

The building, slated for construction on 7 acres at 628 Roosevelt Road, was the subject of a public hearing at Monday night's city council meeting. 

Miller Architects & Builders, the property's developer, initially asked the council to amend an original plan to build two smaller buildings on the property in favor of one large building. 

During the public hearing, area homeowners stressed concerns about the two-story development.

Several suggested the size and location of the development compromises homeowner privacy, and threatens the integrity of the neighborhood's wildlife areas.

One of these residents is Roger Gillson, who has lived along 13th Avenue South across from the proposed building for nearly 30 years.

He says he's particularly troubled by a plan to add over 100 extra parking spaces to the property. 

Gillson told the council, he's spent several weeks counting the number of cars parked in the current 240-space lot three times daily. He presented his findings to the council which suggest that, at 1p.m., the parking lot averages its peak capacity of 30% full. 

Gillson tells KNSI that adding the extra parking spaces will not only exceed city surplus parking code by 115 spaces, but will require harvesting several acres of land which include century-old oak trees and different kinds of wildlife.  

"The existing parking lot is underutilized significantly, and [the developer] is asking for new parking facilities," Gillson says. "I'm saying, why not use what's already there and preserve some of that woodland." 

A representative from Miller Architects explained that the business moving into the building, Preferred Credit Inc., is a help center which will require plenty of parking space to accomodate multiple shifts of workers averaging between 150-160 employees.

He added, the company consulted similar businesses in other cities to gauge how much parking is required.

In spite of this, Gillson says he and fellow residents are concerned that the extra development is unecessary.

"It's still a mystery to me why, even though it's a help center, why they need all that extra parking," Gillson says. "The developer told me privately that, because it's a help center, that they need it. But, it's never come up in the public meetings. We already have excess capacity in the existing parking lot - so why doesn't that cover it?"

Other residents expressed concerns about the proximity of the building to their homes.

Dwayne Fisher, who lives 75 feet from the site, urged members of the city council to visit the neighborhood. 

"Once you'll see it, you'll realize that none of you would want this either," he stressed. 

After the public hearing, the city council unanimously moved to table a vote on the topic in order to work with the developer to study the issues raised and assess the environmental impact. They'll revisit it in their June 24th meeting.

If approved, the site could begin construction as early as this fall, with a completion date some time in 2014. 

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