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Looking back: 2013 was year of transitions in Woodbury

The first steel delivery for the Bielenberg Sports Center made its way to Woodbury in July. 1 / 2
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Transitions were the name of the game in Woodbury this past year.

Major building projects, developments and changes in elected leadership kept many elements in the city in flux during 2013 and look to come to fruition in coming months.

Highlighting those issues were the Bielenberg Sports Center project, major plans for the vacant State Farm building, the end of class rank in District 833, a partially passed schools referendum and the election of two new faces to the School Board.

BSC, Cabela’s

Woodbury saw a number of new construction projects in 2013 including a major renovation to the city’s sports center bringing statewide partnerships and becoming an even larger landmark.

Bielenberg Sports Center is undergoing a $22 million renovation that will expand the field house to 90,000 square feet, add an outdoor skating rink, bring an all-accessible playground to the campus and become the Minnesota United FC’s headquarters by spring.

The city’s most recognizable landmark, the dome, was deflated in May to make way for the permanent structure.

“The expanded, permanent structure will allow for more year-round use at the facility, as temperatures inside the field house can be regulated more efficiently than the previous fabric dome,” Parks and Recreation Director Bob Klatt said. “The facility will double in size, allowing for full-size football, lacrosse and soccer indoor activities. In addition the full-scale restaurant and other new features are desirable amenities and are already driving increased rental requests from new user groups.”

The year 2013 continued to see development activity as an 80,000 square foot Cabela’s quickly began its construction phase once permits were finalized earlier in the year. The store is expected to open by spring 2014.

State Farm plans

The former State Farm building, now dubbed the “Woodbury Corporate Center,” is under contract by the Florida-based real estate investment group Elion Partners.

The company announced in October that it will purchase the 450,000 square-foot office building located on 100 acres at Radio Drive and Interstate 94. The deal is expected to be closed in early 2014.

“This property has a strategic location, tremendous access, robust infrastructure and untapped potential,” said Juan DeAngulo, partner and chief operating officer for Elion Partners. “We look forward to continuing to work with the city and the real estate community in the Twin Cities to create a premier environment for today’s business.”

The company plans to add medical office space, a hotel, main street shops and restaurants.

New businesses

After a long wait, Punch Pizza opened its doors in September, followed by Jake’s Wayback Burgers in the fall.

The two join a number of small businesses that opened this year, including a restaurant location that has attracted numerous concepts and owners over a short period of time and reopening as Cowboy Jack’s this summer.

Also in 2013, a new grocery store-anchored development dubbed Bielenberg Gardens was approved and is in the beginning stages of construction.

Jerry’s Enterprises partnered with the developer United Properties to build the center located at the southwest corner of Radio Drive and Bailey Road.

The 30-acre site will feature a 68,000 square foot grocery store. Jerry’s Enterprises has not announced the name that the store will operate under.

Residential housing

Woodbury opened up Phase 2 for construction late in 2012 and by the end of 2013, more than 365 units were added.

“Phase 2 had a positive impact on the city’s housing market,” said Janelle Schmitz, assistant community development director. “The first three developments in the Phase 2A area, Bailey Lake, Ashton Ridge and Southridge, will ultimately add 451 more single family lots to our lot inventory, providing additional choice in housing for our current and future residents.”

Water system problem

Numerous Woodbury households got an unwelcome surprise in November when a malfunction in the city’s waterworks system caused multiple water mains to burst.

An apartment complex in the CityWalk district caught the worst of it during the Nov. 17 incident. An upstairs water main in the apartment building burst, sending water cascading into residents’ living spaces. More than 30 people were assisted by the Red Cross as a result of damage sustained to apartment units there.

City officials later said the highly unusual incident was due to a malfunction that caused the system to continue pumping water when it wasn’t needed. That led to a build-up in water pressure throughout the city’s lines that exposed weak points in the system — namely, water mains and residential hot water heater connections.

Alarms and back-up processes that should have kicked in never did, city officials said.

The city received 154 damage claims as a result of the incident. An investigation into the cause of the malfunction was launched; no results have been released thus far.

Check back for more year in review content, including issues in education, elections, Washington County and Afton.