Longtime Twin Cities developer Jeff Schoenwetter plans to build boutique condominiums called Meyer Place at Ferndale on the northern shore of Lake Minnetonka. Plans are still evolving, but Schoenwetter said he’s aiming for about 20 upscale condos on a one-acre site at 105 E. Lake St. in downtown Wayzata that’s now the closed Meyer Bros. Dairy.
The property is held by a Meyer family partnership, which will retain an ownership role in the project via a 99-year land lease with Schoenwetter’s development company, Homestead Partners. Such residential land leases reportedly don’t exist in this market, but they are common in Los Angeles, Chicago and other places.
Though Schoenwetter is still working on a final configuration of the floor plans, the units will likely be priced from about $350 to $400 per square foot. Some of the larger units are expected to have 2,800 to 3,000 square feet. “We’re being very cautious about what we want to promise prospective clients at this point,” he said. “The municipality will influence what gets done there in a big way.” Schoenwetter said he will submit final plans to the city in the form of a planned unit development by early 2016. At the moment, he is waiting for the city to hire a permanent city planner.
Though the site is situated within two zoning districts, including one that calls for such buildings to include a retail component, he said his preference is to build a project that’s entirely residential. The building is being designed by Whitten and Associates. Schoenwetter is accepting priority reservations but won’t begin construction until he has several pre-sales. Based on early interest, he said, he doesn’t think that will be a problem. He hopes to start construction in the early spring and have it ready for the 2016 Fall Parade of Homes.
The project is a rarity these days as developers focus on building rental apartments. Right now there’s only one major condo project under construction, and it’s in downtown Minneapolis where Jim Stanton of Shamrock Development is building Portland Tower, a 17-story high-rise at 8th Street and Portland Avenue. Condo development has been stunted by what developers say are state laws that create too much liability for them. Real estate agents blame those laws for what appears to be a shortage of condo listings.
At the end of last month, there were just 930 condominiums on the market in the 13-county metro, a nearly 11 percent decline from last year, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors. At the current sales pace, those units would last just 3.1 months. That’s down from last year and below the metrowide average for all properties.