Type: Senior rentals
Affordable units: 7
Cost: $35 million (est.)
Developer: Waters Senior Living
Details: After a contentious debate lasting more than a year, Edina this month approved a scaled-down version of an upscale senior rental community next to the city's landmark Colonial Church.
A divided City Council on Aug. 3 approved a request by Minneapolis-based developer Waters Senior Living to shrink the project by 28 feet to free up enough resources for inclusion of seven units of affordable housing.
The project will still have 139 units, the same as last year when it was first approved, despite heated opposition led by a coalition of residents and council supporters who disputed whether zoning laws allowed for such a large project to built in their quiet neighborhood.
Under the new plans, about 28 feet have been removed from the middle section of the building and 38 underground parking stalls were eliminated.
One of the many criticisms leveled at the project last year was that its market-rate rents -- figured to run from $3,000 to $9,000 per month depending on the level of care required and size of unit -- were unaffordable to residents in the surrounding Countryside neighborhood.
In a bid to supply an affordable housing element, Waters earlier this year asked the city for a $3.5 million tax increment financing subsidy to help set aside 28 units for seniors making 50 percent or less of the area's median income.
But a divided City Council rejected the request in February, and Waters again altered its plans, this time including seven affordable units to be made possible by reducing its building costs with smaller overall structure.
"We strongly believe Waters Senior Living will be an asset to the entire community," Jay Jensen, the firm's senior vice president of development, told the council. "We really are committed to trying to create some affordable housing in Edina, and we're doing that through shrinking the building."
He said the Colonial Church, as well as other churches in Edina, supported the creation of affordable units, as did Edina Mayor Jim Hovland, who said at the meeting that he liked the idea of low-income seniors being able to rent a unit in the "elegant" building for less than $1,000 per month.
Edina is required to add scores of new affordable housing units by 2020 as a condition of tapping the Metropolitan Council's Livable Communities grant program.
Don Jacobson, a freelance writer based in St. Paul, can be contacted at email@example.com.