The site plan and preliminary plat for 136 owner-occupied, single-family homes on smaller lots were unanimously approved by the Coon Rapids City Council earlier this month.

The development is planned on about 43 acres city-owned property in Port Riverwalk, south of Coon Rapids Boulevard from Egret Boulevard to Coon Creek. The site was once home to more than a dozen buildings, including the former Coon Rapids Shopping Center, Coon Rapids Clinic and a bank. The HRA acquired the property in the early 2000s, demolished the buildings, then cleaned up pollution in the area.

Coon Rapids-based Centra Homes expects construction to start this summer, along with city infrastructure work within the development and Anoka County’s upgrade of Coon Rapids Boulevard.

According to Grant Fernelius, city community development director, all that remains is approval of a final plat, which should be a formality, and wrapping up negotiations on a final development agreement with Centra Homes before the June 14 closing date on the purchase agreement approved by the Coon Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authority last year.

Fernelius anticipated the development agreement would be complete by early May, and it does not need to come back to the council for action because the council authorized staff to sign off on the final document.

Planner Scott Harlicker made the site plan and preliminary plat presentations to the council.

There will three different housing types – 67 two-story court homes, 35 one-level homes and 34-two-level homes.

According to Harlicker, the development will have a homeowners association that will provide architectural control, landscaping maintenance and neighborhood services as well as be responsible for the private streets.

While supportive of the project, Council Member Brad Johnson had some concern about the setback between the homes, only 10 feet.

But Mayor Jerry Koch said he was OK with 10 feet. “It’s better than row homes,” he said.

According to Dave Pattberg, Centra Homes’ chief financial officer, the company has built or is building similar developments in Blaine, Maple Grove and Ramsey and buyers see these types of detached houses as alternatives to attached row townhomes.

“They are comfortable with that,” Pattberg said.

Centra will sell the project as three different neighborhoods and three different products, offering a variety of floor plans and multiple color options, he said.

Council Member Jennifer Geisler praised the development as “beautiful” but was disappointed at the lack of green space in the plan.

“There will be a lot of young families,” Geisler said. “Where will the children go?”

Although the council unanimously approved the preliminary plat and site plan motions, Geisler opposed a motion to approve use and design flexibility because one of the findings was that there were “significant site amenities.”

In Geisler’s view, the site plan has no site amenities.

“The city is giving up more than we are getting,” she said.

Other council members disagreed, citing sidewalks on all streets, which is not common in the city, landscaping throughout the development, screening and buffering and a trail along Coon Rapids Boulevard tying in the city’s trail system.

The Port Riverwalk project has been well received by the neighborhood, Koch said.

As part of the site plan and preliminary plat approvals, Centra Homes will pay a $272,000 park dedication fee to the city prior to release of the final plat for recording.

The Port Riverwalk site was once home to more than a dozen buildings, including the former Coon Rapids Shopping Center, Coon Rapids Clinic and a bank. The HRA acquired the property in the early 2000s, demolished the buildings, then cleaned up pollution in the area.

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