Rosemount, Minn. -- The University of Minnesota has plans to turn thousands of acres of mostly undeveloped land in Dakota County into a forward-thinking, environmentally friendly community.
"It would be a place of 20 to 30 thousand people that would be energy-efficient, sustainable, carbon neutral, sort of a city for the future," said Charles Muscoplatt, Director of UMore Park and University of Minnesota Vice President of statewide resource development.
The area known as "UMore Park" covers 5,000 acres in the City of Rosemount and Empire Township. The land is currently rented farmland, plots used for university agricultural research and empty space.
But the university envisions building on that land a community that would embrace the latest environmental technology available.
"If you design a community from the very beginning, you can think of designing a building with better insulation," Muscoplatt said, adding that the community would also include heating and cooling systems that use solar, wind and geothermal energies and could cut energy use in half.
The community would meet the demands of an expected population surge, Muscoplatt said, while also generating money for the university. The university hopes to start mining gravel on the site beginning in 2011. Muscoplatt believes that would raise $3 to $6 million per year. Officials hope actual construction at the site could begin in 2012, depending on the housing recession and whether private developers have decided to join the project.
So far, the affected communities are on board with the plan.
"It certainly is an exciting project, and there's a lot of opportunities there because of the land size," said Kim Lindquist, the Rosemount Community Development Director.
Lindquist said some residents remain skeptical the plan will actually come to fruition, given the university's previous development plans.
"The university has talked over the decades, has talked about various projects they might do on the property and really have not gone anywhere," Lindquist said.
The university said they're committed to this plan, and they believe it's a model that will generate enough revenue and attention to attract private developers.
"It has all the ingredients to show people how to live well in the 21st century," Muscoplatt said.
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