Q: Why is the City moving forward with construction on Phase one of Panoway on Wayzata Bay during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: The Mayor Willcox and the Wayzata City Council made a unanimous decision to move forward with phase one of construction for Panoway on Wayzata Bay after consulting state health officials and the Governor’s office, and evaluating the risks presented by the coronavirus pandemic. Protecting public safety continues to be the City’s top priority, and they are confident that they can do this work with the proper safeguards and precautions to protect the health of construction workers and Wayzata residents. Other reasons for moving forward at this time include:

Financial security
Despite the uncertain financial climate, the City of Wayzata is on strong financial footing to move forward with construction now. The project is being paid for with long-term capital dollars from the city, the state, and from Three Rivers Park District

Needed infrastructure
Phase one of this project includes long-needed improvements to the downtown infrastructure. This includes work to improve roads, utilities, storm sewer systems, railroad crossings, sidewalks and the water main.

Minimizing disruption
Moving forward when many downtown businesses are closed or have reduced their services will minimize disruption for these businesses when they are able to resume normal operations.

This project is supplying hundreds of construction-related jobs at a time when people need them the most.

Q: What does the name Panoway mean?

A: Panoway was inspired by the lakeside panorama of the Wayzata shoreline. It also taps into the idea of what the lakefront offers to the community: spanning seasons, generations and activities that bring people together. It will be a place that joins families, friends and communities through shared experiences in one of the state’s most treasured places.

Q: Why did you rebrand the project? Will “Lake Effect” be used anymore?

A: Lake Effect represented the first phase of this project, when we were gathering input and developing a new vision for the Wayzata lakefront. Panoway is the next step in implementing the community’s vision. It conveys an identity for the space and helps describe the benefits and uniqueness of the experience that will be created.

Q: How will the Project Impact the Environment?

A: The growth of Wayzata and the popularity of the lakefront has taken a toll over the years. Flourishing residential, business and recreational communities have impacted water quality, plant and animal life, and the overall health and wellbeing of Lake Minnetonka.

The Wayzata Lake Effect project will take needed steps to reverse this trend, supporting the environmental needs of the lake while still enhancing the community’s access to this important resource. The project will restore the shoreline to a more natural state and make improvements to address other critical issues.

The environmental improvements include:

  • Reintroducing and supporting native plant life and habitat for wildlife
  • Planting hundreds of new trees
  • Introducing more than 5,000 square feet of new pollinator habitat
  • Restoration of more than 1,000 linear feet of lake edge
  • Developing holding ponds to improve and treat rainwater runoff
  • Developing up-to-date irrigation technology to reduce water consumption
  • Converting 12,000 square feet of paving along Lake Street back to its natural state

Q: Why do we need to make this kind of investment when the lakeshore is already a beautiful space for residents to enjoy?

A: Panoway is aimed at making sure we protect and enhance the lakefront now and for future generations. We need to act now to restore and sustain the ecosystem of the lake, which has been impacted by area growth over decades. We also want to take steps that will better connect our downtown with the lake, to fully realize the unique potential of our city.

Q: How is Panoway being funded? What is the split between public and private dollars?

A: Phase I has been funded by the City of Wayzata (80%), Three Rivers (15%), and the State of Minnesota (5%). Phase II will be funded by private sources (individuals, families, foundations and corporation) and additional regional public funding.

Q: Why are you asking private philanthropy to contribute? Shouldn’t the city pay for this project?

A: Innovative, forward-thinking projects like Panoway require both public and private partnership to happen. City resources alone, especially from a small town under 5,000 people like the City of Wayzata, can’t fund such a transformational project that will realize the vision of the broader community and provide future economic development opportunities.

Q: How will Panoway benefit the Wayzata business community?

A: Wayzata has seen significant growth in recent years, attracting new businesses and restaurants to Lake Street. Panoway will build on this momentum. The redesign of Lake Street will attract more visitors to downtown and will encourage them to spend more time exploring the shops and restaurants as well as the lakefront.

Creating a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly downtown is critical to the future growth of Wayzata. Throughout the planning and development of Panoway, the business community has been very supportive of the vision and the possibilities for the newly redesigned Lake Street area.

Q: Is Panoway going to cause an influx of traffic on the already busy Lake Street?

A: Panoway will prepare Wayzata for future needs by making downtown more accessible through different modes of transportation. The city will be more bike and pedestrian friendly in addition to cars. While the first phase of Panoway is under construction, the City will also reconstruct Lake Street, widening sidewalks and creating more public gathering spaces to improve pedestrian access to downtown and the lakefront.

Other steps to relieve traffic congestion and provide additional parking have also been undertaken by the city, county and MnDOT. This includes the construction of the 385-stall municipal parking ramp on Mill Street, the reconstruction of County Road 101 and access to and from US Highway 12 (Central Avenue), and the reconstruction of Superior & Wayzata Boulevard for improved access and safety.

Q: What is the timeline and how is Panoway being funded?

A: The first phase of construction is being funded by the City of Wayzata, Three Rivers Park District and the State of Minnesota, with continued support from private donors through the Wayzata Conservancy.

More than $9 million has been raised to complete the first phase of the project, leaving $15 million to be raised between public and private sources to complete phase two. The City of Wayzata and its partners are seeking $10 million in bonding from the Minnesota Legislature to help fund a portion of the second phase of this regionally significant project. The second phase of the project will include an eco-classroom, the preservation of the Wayzata Depot, a boardwalk along the lakefront and the restoration of the shoreline.

The first phase is slated to begin mid-April and is expected to be completed in early September.