70 Mahtomedi Av., Mahtomedi

Type: Affordable senior rentals Units: 79 Cost: Approximately $12 million Developers: Washington County HRA and Sand Cos.

Details: Plans to replace a long-shuttered former restaurant at the entrance to downtown Mahtomedi with affordable senior rental housing took a step forward this week when the city approved a planned unit development and other measures necessary to proceed with Piccadilly Square.

The effort from the Washington County Housing and Redevelopment Authority and St. Cloud-based multifamily developer Sand Cos. envisions razing the former Piccadilly Restaurant -- a 1950s-era town landmark that has been vacant for five years -- and replacing it with 79 units of affordable senior housing.

Under the plans, the rentals would be restricted to residents 55 or older. Rentals would include 39 one-bedroom units and 40 two-bedroom units, along with amenities such as a fitness center, activity area, covered patio and community room.

The site at Mahtomedi Avenue (Hwy. 244) and Stillwater Road (County 12) is, in effect, the gateway into the Main Street-style shared downtown of Mahtomedi and the adjacent community of Willernie, which are nestled along the eastern shore of White Bear Lake.

County officials began the process two years ago when they received a $1 million Metropolitan Council Livable Communities Grant to acquire the property from its current owner. Final action on the project awaits additional grant money from the state of Minnesota to fund the removal of asbestos from the former restaurant as well as buried hazardous debris, left over from when the property held a streetcar powerhouse from the 1890s until 1947.

Don Jacobson is a freelance writer in St. Paul.