The Brooklyn Center City Council approved a preliminary development agreement June 22 for 13 triplex housing units along Brooklyn Boulevard.
The proposal, by C Alan Homes, would bring rental housing to eight parcels currently owned by the city’s Economic Development Authority. The council approved the preliminary agreement for the proposal, giving the developer the opportunity to perform further due diligence on the site before bringing a full proposal to the city. The City Council also asked the developer to work with city staff to explore adding affordable units to the development.
One proposed site for development is at the southwest corner of 61st Avenue North and Brooklyn Boulevard, totaling 1.55 acres in size, while the second site is on the west side of the 6900 block of Brooklyn Boulevard totaling 0.88 acres. Market analysis performed for the city determined that these sites were likely not suitable for retail development, but could support mid-density housing. The city acquired the parcels that make up these two sites between 1995 and 2018. The city has historically bought properties along Brooklyn Boulevard with the intention of repurposing them for a higher use.
The proposed triplex units would feature two and three-bedroom units. Rents are anticipated between $1,300 and $1,750 per month and would be constructed to have the appearance of a large, high-quality, single-family home.
Terry Robertson, CEO of C Alan Homes, said that the goal of the development is to meet the market need for two and three-bedroom units in Brooklyn Center at a reasonable price. While the proposal did come with any legally-binding promises of affordability, the developer wanted to create a project that could add high-quality housing to the area while also being reasonably affordable for area residents. The developers are considering exploring the use of Section 8 funds to make rents more affordable. The project also has a personal element, as Robertson attended Brooklyn Center High School and has family still living within the city, he said.
While Robertson said he understands the desire for affordability with the proposal, it already has small profit margins and isn’t intended to be a large money-maker when compared to the company’s developments in Edina or other outer-ring suburbs.
“We have other developments that we’re working on currently that are far more lucrative, but Brooklyn Center has always meant something to me,” he said.
The developer has not requested financial assistance for the project.
The council was unanimous in its support for the project.
Councilmember Dan Ryan said that while he has supported affordable housing developments when appropriate, the city also needs a full range of housing to offer its residents. This proposal offers a high-quality product that would improve the city’s public image, he said. “There are cases when we need to follow the market,” he said.
Mayor Mike Elliott said that while he likes the project concept, he also wants to see a legally-binding affordability component added to the project. He moved to amend the original motion to ask that the developer and city staff members explore ways to include legally-binding affordable units in the development. This amendment was approved in a 3-1 vote with Ryan dissenting.
“What I’m asking is for us as a city to come along and partner with you if possible to help with that affordability, and not to undercut you,” Elliott said.
While affordable housing is an important issue, the city also needs high-quality housing that functions as a step-up from starter homes, said Councilmember Marquita Butler. It’s also important to be realistic about the economy, and it would be good to explore what options are available before a final proposal is brought before the council, she said.
Councilmember April Graves said that while rents initially sounded high for the site, rent on nearby properties is comparable. “The thing that’s positive to me about it is the quality of the standards by which it is being built, and the products used and the amenities,” she said.
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