The City Council this week is poised to pick between two downtown spots for a new bus depot called the Intermodal Transit Facility.
The first is owned by Pepsi at the 400 block of Sixth Avenue SE and the second site, across from Greene Square Park in the 400 block of Fourth Avenue SE, houses TrueNorth, an insurance and financial services firm.
Owners at both sites are interested in selling.
The city has been trying to build the Intermodal for some years now and is now looking at a fourth site for it. It has had a $9-million federal grant for the project since 2002.
The plan now -– once a new site is picked this month -– is to conduct a feasibility study and an environmental assessment between May and October of 2009; acquire the property between November 2009 and May 2011; and design and build the facility between May 2011 and November 2013, according to a staff report prepared by the city’s Department of Community Development.
Most recently, the plan has been for the Intermodal to be a multistory building with offices, and perhaps even residential units, on the upper floors.
According to the staff report, the Pepsi site has more advantages and more disadvantages than the TrueNorth site.
The advantages of the Pepsi site are these: an interested seller; only one owner to deal with; meets the council’s evaluation criteria; provides a chance to move the Pepsi warehouse operation to an area with similar uses; and requires the purchase of more than one block needed for the Intermodal, which could be used for other civic purposes.
The disadvantages of the Pepsi site: the need to buy more than one block; and the need for a plan for reuse or sale of the extra property.
As for the TrueNorth site, the advantages are: a willing seller; and meets the council’s evaluation criteria. The disadvantage: multiple property owners could delay the property purchase.
Both the Pepsi and TrueNorth sites are outside the 100-year flood plain, and the TrueNorth site is outside the 500-year flood plain.
In April of 2008, the council decided to build the Intermodal on Third Street SE between Ninth and 10th avenues SE. After the June flood, though, the Federal Transit Administration rejected the site because it is in the 100-year flood plain.
Initially, the Intermodal was going to be built across from the U.S. Cellular Center on First Avenue SE. Then during the Paul Pate mayoral administration, the proposed building was moved to a vacant site on Second Street SE between Sixth and Seventh avenues SE.
The current council nearly began building the Intermodal on that site. However, council member Pat Shey spoke up, saying that it didn’t make any sense to build another transit facility two blocks from the existing one. A Minneapolis consultant agreed, saying that the design of the proposed Intermodal, which was part transit facility and part parking ramp, would be out of date for both transit and parking on the day it opened. She also said the configuration of the existing Ground Transportation Center bus depot, where buses backed from parking stalls, was a public safety hazard.
The June flood damaged the GTC depot. By then the council decided to close the depot and incorporate those transit activities with others in a new Intermodal. The most recent plans have not had a parking ramp associated with the new building.