Chanhassen residents speak out against proposed development on Prince's former property

Chanhassen residents packed the council chambers Tuesday night with many speaking out on a proposal to transform land once owned by the musician Prince into a housing development.

The chambers were standing room only as roughly 200 people attended. Residents say they are upset with how Twin Cities developer, Lennar, wants to transform the natural landscape of trees, ponds and other wetlands into a housing development of about 180 homes.

“It just tears me apart to see new development and the first thing they do is rip out all the trees and it’s frustrating for me to look at all of that and it just goes away,” said Brenda Darkow, a resident.

“I believe this will probably be one of the most destructive developments in the City of Chanhassen that will lose 80 percent of the tree cover,” said Josh Kimber, a resident. “It will lose 90 percent if you do both plans.”

The developers came back to the drawing board with some revised blueprints at the request of neighbors. They are offering to save more trees and preserve some of the natural landscape.

Over the last few months, folks in the area say the plan would bring in a lot of traffic and would block natural views with rows of luxury homes.

Before building Paisley Park, Prince once lived in a home on the land with his ex-wife. Even after he bulldozed the house, he still maintained the property until he died in 2016. Those who knew the rock star say he loved this secluded area in Chanhassen and would be upset to know it was going to be transformed into more housing.

“He told us in his music as well as in late night concerts, the value of the property is just the land and not the building,” said Tia Burton, a longtime friend of Prince and former employee of Paisley Park. “That’s why he never built anything on top of it after he tore his home down.”

Prince's estate put the land on the market last fall and Lennar entered into a purchase agreement, but they've been met with resistance on a number of different proposals put forward.

This session marked the last time the Planning Commission had a public comment forum. The City Council will vote next Monday on whether they decide to move forward with the latest version of this plan. Lennar developers have said they would like to start construction in the fall.