Mendota's 2040 Plan seeks more development downtown
City of 200 aims for growth in population and a wider tax base
The city of Mendota will hold a public hearing on its 2040 Comprehensive Plan at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 11, at VFW Post 6690, 1323 Sibley Memorial Hwy. The comprehensive plan is a blueprint for development for the next 20 years for this town of 200 located high above the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers.
The 2040 plan is being drafted at the request of the Metropolitan Council. Unlike previous comprehensive plans, it places an emphasis on development in downtown Mendota, “an area where the community will likely see some change in the next five to 20 years,” according to Chris Janson, a team leader and planner with MSA Professional Services who was hired by the Mendota City Council to draft the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.
The 100-page plan is intended to “continue and improve Mendota’s housing, which is predominantly single-family, as well as expand housing opportunities for new families and retirees,” Janson said.
The city is looking for new development to enliven the town and bring new transportation opportunities, according to Mendota Mayor Brian Mielke. “The city is excited for opportunities to grow and to reenvision downtown with an urban walkable feel, a combination of retail and housing right on Main Street and along the Minnesota River,” Mielke said. “If redevelopment happens, then transit will follow. Metro Transit could bring in smaller buses to serve Mendota.”
The Met Council expects Mendota’s population to increase to 280 by the year 2040. More homes are needed to accommodate that growth. “Mendota’s predominant land use is low-density housing, down in the valley and up the bluff,” Janson said. “It’s mostly single-family housing and a few apartment complexes.”
New housing is needed to provide a greater diversity of housing options, according to Janson, to attract new residents and make it possible for current residents to continue living in Mendota as they age. The new development will also broaden the property tax base, increasing city revenue to fund road and sewer projects, he added.
“Mendota has some very successful businesses that continue to grow,” Janson said. “Capturing some of that and continuing to see some future reinvestment is good for the city, but it’s also good for the property owners because they’ll have that additional traffic and marketing that’ll benefit everybody.”
Mendota, which takes its name from Bdote, a Dakota Indian word for "where the two waters come together, was one of the first white settlements in the region. It was incorporated in 1844. At the time, St. Paul, was a similarly small settlement of mostly French-Canadians. But unlike St. Paul, Mendota is still a small town. Many of the homes still get their water from a well. And mail isn’t delivered by a postal carrier; residents pick it up at the post office downtown.
Although Mendotans find that old town aura attractive, “we do need growth and redevelopment and additional housing,” Mielke said. “Redevelopment will bring in additional dollars, allowing the city to take care of our infrastructure needs without raising taxes on existing residents.”