Wayzata’s downtown has one of the best public views available of Lake Minnetonka and Wayzata Bay. For decades the linear stretch of land between Lake Street and the shoreline separated by rail tracks appeared underdeveloped and featured a parking lot.

Years of meetings with community members and designers resulted in the creation of Panoway on Wayzata Bay, the first phase of redeveloping the land from the city’s historic depot through downtown to the Cov restaurant. The city replaced a lot with a community plaza featuring seating, green lawns, a kid-friendly interactive water fountain with potable water and a wider sidewalk. Next to the sidewalk, Three Rivers Park District added a Dakota Rail Regional Trail extension that connects to the western terminus.

“We thought the city could do better than a parking lot,” said Jeff Dahl, city manager. “Parking is car storage. We wanted to create a public front porch for Lake Minnetonka because this is the most visible and valuable piece of property in the community.”

The project upgraded street utilities and enlarged the sidewalk in front of the city’s retail section across the street from Panoway, Dahl said. Stahl Construction enhanced street crossings and assisted other contractors in adding new utilities. New restrooms have been added, along with catenary lighting, he said.

Dahl said Wayzata had to close off portions of Lake Street during construction to minimize disruptions and raise enough money to complete the first phase. He credited the Wayzata Conservancy and Three Rivers Park District for their planning and financial assistance.

Panoway has welcomed plenty of admirers in and outside the community, and that appeal will grow in phase two, when the city constructs a boardwalk on the other side of the train tracks and rebuilds Wayzata Depot Park.

The city also added a word to the lexicon, combining “panoramic” with “Wayzata” to arrive at Panoway. “It’s a manufactured word but it works,” he said.

-Frank fossi

Read the magazine feature here.