The New Brighton City Council has approved initial terms for the sale of the Koren United Methodist Church and former elementary school for the construction of 358 affordable apartments and 54 townhomes.

Although it is not final, the city is expected to make approximately $3.6 million from the sale of the 12.5-acre plot, which is located to the north and south of Old Highway 8 where it meets Eighth Avenue NW. During the Jan. 22 meeting, neighborhood residents raised concerns regarding overcrowding, but city staff says additional affordable housing is crucial in New Brighton.

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

Additionally, a citizen survey from 2017 states discovered affordable housing is the second most important issue in New Brighton behind safe drinking water.

Terms of sale

The term sheets approved by the council during the meeting outlines the material terms and conditions that are agreeable to the parties to be incorporated into a future negotiated agreement.

Both Plymouth-based Dominium and Pulte Homes of Minnesota will be working on the project.

Dominium will build 204 affordable senior living apartments for seniors and 154 affordable general apartments.

Pulte will build 53 owner-occupied townhomes.

According to the term sheet, Dominium will pay $8,000 per unit and Pulte will pay $15,000 per unit to city.

To subsidize the Dominium developments, the city will set up a tax increment financing district.

Rent costs will be calculated based on an average 60 percent of the area median income.

Resident concerns

Although selling the property is a financial gain for the city, residents expressed concern during that meeting that adding 411 units to that area will cause major overcrowding.

New Brighton resident Rick Pietrzak said he believes the property cannot support that many people.

“It needs to be reconsidered,” he said. “It doe’s not need to be zoned this dense.”

Apart from overcrowding, residents also fear that the development will drive down home values in the area.

“A lot of us in the area have just bought homes in the very recent past and that much density in that small of an area will drive home values down and cause a lot of us, that count on the value of our homes, to make remodeling next to impossible,” said Pietrzak.

Resident Becky Bates asked the council why the development exceeds the need of affordable housing projected by the Met Council for New Brighton.

Documents for the project say that density is the best way to meet affordable standard and keep costs down.

Lotter assured residents that the development would not negatively affect home values adding that the facilities will be nice and have granite counter tops.

“Oh, don’t worry everyone, they have granite counter tops,” Bates responded.

Residents also said that they didn’t feel the city was properly notifying them before meetings took place.

According to Lotter, there have been 17 public meetings regarding this particular property.

“I don’t believe it is an accurate statement to say that the city hasn’t tried to communicate about this,” said Lotter. “We are always open to understand what is the best avenue. There has been a long public record and discourse about not just this site, but about housing and the need for housing in the City of New Brighton.”     The closing date for the redevelopment property will be on or before Dec. 31, 2019.

For more information about the redevelopment, visit https://tinyurl.com/y9r8owtx.  

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