Rosemount and developer plan novel senior housing

  • Article by: JIM ADAMS
  • Star Tribune
  • December 7, 2012 - 5:33 PM

Rosemount took a major step this week toward creating a novel senior project by approving a preliminary agreement with Doran Companies to build an 80- to 90-unit senior housing building and an adjacent senior/community center, officials said.

The City Council and its Port Authority both voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the 90-day agreement. During that time a final contract will be drafted and three community meetings will be held to gain residents' comments on the $11 million to $15 million project.

"It's a key agreement in order for the parties to move forward, get a contract and start building," said Mayor Bill Droste.

He said the city expects to save more than 20 percent on construction costs by using the same builder for both facilities.

Operating savings are expected by sharing services, such as meal service, fitness classes or classrooms, between the two facilities as well as the nearby Steeple Center, which is used for theater, music and other events.

It's unusual to have a senior housing project next to a center with senior services, said Sara Swenson of the Dakota County Community Development Agency. Of the agency's 26 senior housing buildings, Swenson could only name one, in Hastings, that is close to a senior center. The Burnsville Senior Center also is within a block of Realife, a senior cooperative residence.

Presbyterian Homes, which runs 34 senior residences in the Twin Cities, has only one near a center serving seniors, said John Mehrkens, vice president of project development. That would be Gideon Pond, about a block from Bloomington's Creekside Community Center, used mainly by seniors. It's the only such combination in the city, said Community Development Director Larry Lee.

Presbyterian Homes provides meals for their residents as well as seniors at Creekside, and the city has begun talking to the Presbyterian Homes about other shared services, Lee said. He said the proximity of Rosemount's two proposed senior buildings makes sense because "shared facilities provide interaction which is valued by seniors."

The planned senior residence will be a few blocks south of a public elementary and two secondary schools, where seniors could volunteer or attend sports events.

"It's rare for the timing to work out for both [housing and a senior service center] to be available at the same time," Mehrkens said, "so it certainly will be an advantage to the community."

Doran is comfortable with the agreement, which caps the developer's profits and fees for building the senior/community center at 5 percent of its cost, said Bill Stoddard, Doran's vice president of development.

Droste estimated that the 5,000-square-foot center, still in the conceptual stage, will cost roughly $1 million, which the city would obtain from its capital building fund.

In addition to the profit cap, Doran has agreed to build 60 stalls of underground parking and 30 surface parking spots, to share services and meet other city requirements.

In return, the city has agreed to sell the 1.6-acre senior housing site to Doran for $1, said Kim Lindquist, community development director.

She said the agreement includes no city funding for a pool or fitness area, for which developer Kelly Doran asked the city in August to contribute as much as $1.5 million. But Stoddard said the senior residence will have a fitness area and possibly a water feature, such as a therapy pool.

He said the senior building, at the corner of 143rd Street and S. Robert Trail, would open its cafe and dining area to the public and offer catering for Steeple Center or community center events.

Building the two facilities together offers "a lot of synergies and joint programming opportunities," such as wellness and therapy activities, Stoddard said.

The city will own the senior/community center, which will sit across a plaza from the three-floor continuum-of-care senior residence that Doran will build, own and operate.

Droste said he expects the contract will be signed by March and work to begin in the spring, and that it would take about a year to build the two facilities.

The senior/community center will sit on the site of the former Church of St. Joseph school, which the city demolished this fall. The future center will connect to the adjacent Steeple Center, which has a public library on its south side.

The agreement notes that the city will use up to $390,000 in Livable Community Grant funds it has received from Metropolitan Council to build a public plaza, streetlights, sidewalks and a storm water system for the project, Lindquist said.

Noting that a previous project developer couldn't get financing, she added:

"We are pretty excited to get it moving. We have been trying get it off the ground about a year. It looks like we have a partner who will be able to finance it and move forward."

Jim Adams • 952-746-3283

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