The developer that purchased and closed St. Anthony’s only mobile home park is working to salvage the site’s redevelopment plan after its first pitch at City Hall crumbled during a fiery meeting last month.
The retooled proposal tackles one of the project’s key sticking points: density.
The revised plan cuts the proposed 41.4 units an acre to 27 on a site that includes Lowry Grove, where mobile homes and RVs sat on rented lots for decades before its June 30 closure forced out its low-income residents.
The Village, the developer that bought Lowry Grove, has been meeting quietly with the city after its original proposal was rejected at an Oct. 10 City Council meeting. The development firm will be offering the first public glimpse of its new design in a workshop-style community gathering Monday.
No plans have been submitted to the city for approval.
City leaders unanimously shot down the developer’s initial pitch to transform about 17 acres into 712 units of townhouses and apartment buildings. That plan had included 97 units of affordable housing to replace homes lost when Lowry Grove closed.
The reduced density calls into question whether the affordable component of the project will also be scaled back. Brad Hoyt, president of the Village, said in a statement Friday that the topic will be discussed at Monday’s meeting.
“The site plan is still being worked on, but our commitment to include affordable housing remains unchanged,” Hoyt said.
Under the previous plan, nonprofit developer Aeon was going to handle the project’s affordable housing element. But Aeon will not be involved in the new proposal, Hoyt said.
Aeon had been brought on board as part of a settlement agreement over Lowry Grove’s hotly disputed 2016 sale. That agreement “fell apart when the city denied the original development plans,” Hoyt said.
Barbed accusations have flown over the rejected plan, including allegations that the city abruptly reversed its stance on the high-density development.
When city leaders rejected the project at a packed October meeting, they echoed neighbors’ concerns about density and height, saying the proposal did not meet the community’s needs. Other concerns included traffic, overwhelming local schools and changes to the character of the area, which is largely made up of single-family homes.
City staff and council members said the development’s proposed 41.4 units per acre exceeded the 25 to 40 units permitted in the city’s comprehensive plan.
The developer and the city have since been working to shape a “shared vision” for the site, according to Hoyt and City Manager Mark Casey. That vision, they said, includes affordable housing.
“That remains a priority for the city, and that will not change at all,” Casey said.
Debate about the fate of the land has churned since the Village, an affiliate of Wayzata-based Continental Property Group, bought the property in 2016 for $6 million and announced plans to shut down Lowry Grove.
But a “Reopening soon” sign appeared at the park soon after the city’s rejection of the Village’s plan last month. News that the park may reopen was met with disbelief by some St. Anthony residents and former Lowry Grove homeowners, many of whom fought unsuccessfully against the closure with a lawsuit, protests and pleas at City Hall.
Hoyt has described a move to reopen the park to RVs and mobile homes as “the only option we have left” and a measure to cover costs. All the homes that once stood on the site have since been moved or torn down.
“It is still too early to predict what will happen with the property,” Hoyt said. “But we are hopeful for the future.”
Residents can weigh in on the retooled proposal at 6 p.m. Monday in the commons area of St. Anthony Village High School, 3303 33rd Ave. NE.