An apartment complex that recently opened in Hopkins offers a glimpse into future housing expected near the proposed extension of light rail to the western suburbs.
However, the 51-unit Oxford Village, located on Blake Road N., south of Hwy. 7, is an exception: It is available only for tenants who make less than 60 percent of the area’s median income.
For a family of four in Hopkins, that’s about $42,000 a year. Six units are reserved for formerly homeless people, and management accepts government housing subsidies.
Chris Wilson, the senior director of real estate development for nonprofit developer Project for Pride in Living, said proximity to public transportation is a benefit for low-income residents.
“If their transportation is really expensive, we’ve defeated the purpose,” Wilson said. “We’re trying to make their lives more affordable, not just their housing.”
The first families will begin to move in Monday. Wilson expects the building to be full within a couple of months.
He attributes interest in Oxford Village to the greater need for affordable housing across the Twin Cities.
“We had a couple of hundred applications before we even [opened],” Wilson said.
Project for Pride in Living had contacted cities where the proposed light-rail extension would run to see if they were interested in affordable housing near the line, Wilson said. Hopkins officials, who were looking to redevelop an area with six duplexes near the proposed Blake Road station, signed on.
The $15.4 million project was financed largely through $10 million from Wells Fargo sponsored by the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. The rest came from low-interest loans from the Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County and others.
The incentives help keep rents relatively low — $600 for studio and one-bedroom units, up to $1,000 for three-bedroom units.
The Hennepin County Board continues to provide funding for what it calls “transit-oriented development projects.” This week, the board voted to award $1.7 million to several projects, including a larger redevelopment near the Blake Road station.
Oxford Village is similar in design to off-campus buildings at the University of Minnesota.
The halls have a blue-and-yellow color scheme, there is underground parking and a common area on the second floor. Some units have balconies.
The building is next to Cottageville Park, which borders Minnehaha Creek. “Usually we have to put our own playground in, but with this one we didn’t have to,” Wilson said.
Like many who keep an eye on the area, Wilson is well aware of the delays facing the Southwest light-rail project, with a price tag of $1.9 billion and rising. But he said Metro Transit buses run nearby, and the complex is close to Hwy. 7 for tenants planning to commute by car.
“There’s enough transportation infrastructure already,” he said. “If the light rail never shows up, we’re not worried.”