St. Michael talks apartments in Town Center area

The St. Michael City Council approved a plan for the Town Center area that will bring four apartment building at its Nov. 10 meeting.

The St. Michael City Council met Nov. 10 to discuss a concept plan for the Town Center area, which would include a residential component.

The council also approved the city’s coronavirus-related expense reimbursements for CARES Act funding.

TOWN CENTER

A concept plan for an outlot of the Town Center development area was discussed at the meeting. The area is proposed to have four apartment buildings at the northwest corner of Town Center Drive and Larabee Avenue.

Community Development Director Marc Weigle said this concept is located east of the City Center Building and north of Cub Foods in Town Center.  

No commercial development is proposed as part of this project, which is different than what was proposed two years ago. The Planning Commission also stated it prefers the new layout which has the buildings closer to Town Drive.

The first phase would include a three-story, 82-unit apartment building with underground parking. The applicant, RISE Modular, is proposing workforce housing in 20% of the units in the first phase. RISE is interested in pursuing a state grant through the Workforce Housing Development Program, which awards money to a city who then has a grant agreement with the developer. The deadline to apply for this grant is Dec. 17. Winners of the grant would be announced at the end of March.

As part of the grant application, the city must pledge to provide at least $1 of local matching for every $2 requested from the Workforce Housing Development Program. This can be done through Tax Increment Financing, tax abatement and infrastructures. St. Michael’s city staff support utilizing TIF for the workforce housing portion of the project. The council will hear more about a TIF analysis at a December meeting.

Councilor Ryan Gleason asked how the grant would benefit the city and future residents. Weigle said it would assist with construction costs, which in turn can help provide the workforce housing desired by local businesses.

City Administrator Steve Bot said some of the industrial or manufacturing businesses in town like this type of project for their employees, who may otherwise need to travel to other cities to live.

Christian Lawrence, with RISE, said they are excited about this project and are hopeful this will help drive demand for commercial and retail developments in Town Center after the pandemic.

Charley Owens, also with RISE, said current workforce rent limits are anticipated to be between $905 and $1,334 with the market rate unit rates somewhere between $1,100 and more than $2,000, depending on the unit size.

Councilor Keith Wettschreck said he thought this would be a good project.

Mary Tingerthal is responsible for the grant application and said it is a pretty simple process and not a big burden to the city.

The council decided it liked the project for the Town Center and asked that staff keep working with RISE on the grant application.

CARES ACT REIMBURSEMENTS

The council also approved CARES Act Funding reimbursements for city expenses. These expenses are pandemic-related and were not originally budgeted for in 2020.

The city received $1.34 million in funds, which it has until Nov. 15 to use. At the end of October, the city had spent $1.24 million for pandemic-related expenses. Funds not used have to sent back to the state.

New expenses from November approved by the City Council Nov. 10 totaled $27,162. This includes $7,322 for PPE supplies and small business grant consulting. It also includes $19,840 for hourly staffing time for COVID items such as paid COVID administration leave, Plexiglass installation and coronavirus relief fund reporting.

OTHER

In other action, the council:

CAVASSED the results of the 2020 municipal election.

APPROVED the final plat of the second addition of the Town Center North of St. Michael development. This addition will consist of 27 single-family lots located north of Landmark Drive and west of Lange Avenue.

- Compiled by Alicia Miller

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