Members speak of support for downtown redevelopment
The Rosemount City Council unanimously approved several motions during its meeting Tuesday for Ron Clark Construction to begin building an apartment complex in downtown Rosemount.
Construction on the The Morrison, a 124-unit apartment building, where the Rosemount Plaza Shopping Center and Shenanigan’s Pub are currently, could begin in 2020.
City Council members said they heard from several residents with various questions and concerns about the development over the past month.
Council Member Paul Essler said they received 47 emails two days leading up to the meeting. Council Member Heidi Freske said she talked with about 75 residents throughout the process.
Freske noted more than 70 percent of them were supportive of the project.
Both Essler and Council Member Tammy Block said they were initially hesitant about the project, but the more they learned, the more convinced they were that it’s the right thing to do.
Plans for the market-rate, four-story complex include a club room, fitness center, sky lounge, outdoor pool and rooftop deck. It will be constructed using a mix of brick and stone integrated with cement fiberboard siding consistent with other brick and stone developments downtown.
Plans also include a future commercial building on the north part of the site.
Block said the city’s younger residents are leaving and this project will attract younger residents.
“We’re not trying to ruin downtown,” Essler said. “We’re trying to enhance it.”
Essler said he ran for City Council with the idea of improving economic development and reinvigorating downtown.
He said he didn’t like seeing the number of businesses close or leave town and noted a number of commercial vacancies within the city.
“Actions that the council has taken over the past year and the staff should demonstrate our efforts to reverse this trend,” Essler said.
Essler said more residents downtown will help grow downtown economically and attract businesses.
Essler said private businesses decide where they want to go, but the city is trying to create an environment to foster economic development.
Freske said there are several misconceptions about the project, stating that it’s not “Section 8 or senior housing.” She said it was the area businesses’ decision to sell their property for the development.
Mayor Bill Droste said the plans are consistent with the city’s vision.
Council Member Jeff Weisensel said there was a community-wide effort to engage people in the downtown redevelopment plans in 2016 and 2017, and encouraged residents to become “engaged and involved” in city planning.
Weisensel recalled that there was push back against the The Rosemount Senior Living at Steeple Center and Cub Foods developments in the past, but feels they’ve worked out for the best.
There were also concerns about traffic. A study using the Institute of Traffic Engineers estimates the apartment complex will result in a less traffic from the site compared to commercial uses.
City Planner Anthony Nemcek said it would be a “wash” compared to what’s currently at the location, based on the study.
Community Development Director Kim Lindquist said if the development was a full commercial development, it would have generated three times as much traffic as this residential complex.
There were questions about the building’s height. The city ordinance for maximum building height is 45 feet. The highest point on the Morrison is 48 feet, which the council was comfortable with.
Essler noted that the developers would need four stories in order to make the project work for them.
City officials have been working for several years to revitalize downtown. A market study by Maxfield Research, revealed a market demand for approximately 140 market-rate apartments downtown for young singles and couples.
The study also revealed that introducing new residents downtown will help drive commercial development for neighborhood oriented retailers and restaurants.
Currently, there are several retail buildings downtown charging rent below market and bringing in more residents downtown will likely stimulate commercial development, according to city documents.
The council also approved the creation of a tax increment finance plan to aid in the redevelopment.
TIF is the ability to use the increase in tax base from the redevelopment to go back into the project, said Rebecca Kurtz of Ehlers said.