An affordable-housing advocacy group wants to join Ramsey County’s legal battle with Arden Hills over the redevelopment of a sprawling chunk of land that was once a munitions site.
The Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, a coalition of Twin Cities-based nonprofits fighting economic, environmental, health and racial injustice, claims Arden Hills is violating state and federal laws by disregarding its responsibility to provide equal access to housing.
The alliance wants more affordable housing to be part of the redevelopment of the 427-acre Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP).
Despite the $40 million public investment in acquisition and remediation of the site, the alliance said, “the plans for the largest mixed-use development in the Twin Cities region actively perpetuate inequity and exclusion by failing to meet even the lowest bar for affordable housing production.”
With assistance from the Housing Justice Center, the alliance filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit filed by Ramsey County in May. The county also wants more housing at the site.
The county’s lawsuit seeks to end an agreement with Arden Hills to redevelop the land into the Rice Creek Commons plan. Ramsey County claims the city didn’t engage in good-faith negotiations over financing, density and affordable housing disputes for the site.
In 2012, Arden Hills and Ramsey County entered into a joint-powers agreement to redevelop the site, which the Minnesota Vikings had once considered for a new stadium before deciding to build it in downtown Minneapolis.
Ramsey County bought the land from the federal government in 2013, and the preliminary Rice Creek Commons plan was approved by the county and city in 2016. The plan envisioned offices, businesses and 1,460 housing units, with 10% of them affordable. But the burgeoning regional housing shortage caused the county to seek up to 1,000 more homes on the site, which is roughly the size of downtown St. Paul. Arden Hills wants to stay with the 2016 plan.
Margaret Kaplan, president of the Housing Justice Center, said fair housing is not optional, “and when government actors block efforts to meet the housing needs of low-income households of color, it cannot go unchecked.”
Russ Adams, executive director of the alliance, said, “For decades, our region has created and implemented policies that have intentionally and explicitly excluded households of color from community investments and avenues to wealth-building, like homeownership, while subsidizing those same assets and opportunities for white households.”
Minority households are four times as likely as white households to be renters with incomes at or below 50% of the area median income.
The alliance wants Hennepin County Judge Kevin Burke to allow it to intervene in the lawsuit so that it can be heard in the case.
Arden Hills has not yet filed a response.