Initial terms set for New Brighton apartment project


file photo The former Korean United Methodist Church is set for demolition, and an apartment and townhome development will take its place.

New Brighton stands to make around $3.6 million from the sale of the former New Brighton Elementary School site, which will become townhomes and affordable apartments.

That’s according to term sheets approved on Jan. 22 by the New Brighton City Council. While the details aren’t yet final, the documents show that the plan is to add 358 affordable apartments and 54 owner-occupied townhomes to the roughly 12.5-acre location.

Concerns about overcrowding the neighborhood have shadowed the development through the planning stages, but officials say that affordable housing is a real concern for the city of about 22,000.

“One of the top issues we have is that there is not enough diversity of housing in terms of affordability,” said city council member Graeme Allen.

 

Terms

The term sheets approved by the council are outlines that allow initial work on the project to move forward before a final contract is reached.

The development plot includes land to the north and south of Old Highway 8 where it curves and meets Eighth Avenue NW. Two developers will work on the project.

Plymouth-based Dominium will handle the affordable apartments. The term sheets suggest that the company will build 204 apartments for seniors and 154 general apartments. The company will pay $8,000 per unit to the city.

Eligibility and rents would be calculated based on an average 60 percent of the area median income, according to the term sheets. In 2018, the Met Council set that rent for a one-bedroom apartment at $1,062 and up to $1,640 for a four-bedroom unit.

The city plans to set up a $3.5 million tax increment financing district to subsidize the Dominium developments.

The second developer, Pulte Homes of Minnesota, plans to build 53 row-style townhomes that will be owner-occupied. The company will pay $15,000 per unit to the city, according to the term sheets. More than half of the townhomes will have four bedrooms.

All told, the land sale should bring in $3.6 million for New Brighton, pending final contract terms.

 

Overcrowding

Residents aired concerns about the impacts of adding more than 400 units to the section of town during the Jan. 22 council meeting.

“That area cannot support that many people,” said Rick Pietrzak. “That corner is not made for it.”

The roughly 12.5 acres is the former site of the Korean United Methodist Church and also had a past life as New Brighton Elementary School.

Comments during the council meeting also touched on the addition of affordable housing. Pietrzak said that he worried about the impact on neighborhood home values. Another resident, Becky Bates, asked why the development exceeds the need of affordable housing projected by the Met Council for New Brighton.

City documents for the project say that of all the plots studied for apartment development, this was the best choice. And to meet affordable standards, density is the best way to keep costs down.

City Manager Dean Lotter said that the development won’t negatively affect home values.

“There will be granite countertops. There will be nice facilities,” he said. “There will be value-added development in this neck of the woods.”

 

Zoning

The council approved conditional ordinances to rezone portions of the New Brighton Elementary development and a separate expansion at the Benedictine Health Center.

The rezoning to high-density residential sets the stage for developers to submit documents for planned residential developments.

The zoning is conditional, pending approval of the city’s 2040 plan by the Met Council and the city’s approval of the developers’ planned residential developments. After Met Council approval, the PRDs must match the guidelines of the 2040 plan, according to Ben Gozola, assistant director of community assets and development for New Brighton.

In the coming months, city officials will likely work through formal proposals for the developments.

 

–Matt Hudson can be reached at mhudson@lillienews.com or 651-748-7825.

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