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Anoka considers Rum River housing project

  • Article by: Jim ADAMS
  • Star Tribune
  • May 14, 2013 - 1:35 PM

Anoka is working on its first large single-family development in 20 years, a 44-home enclave to be built in a farm field between the Rum River and the county library on the north side of Bunker Lake Boulevard.

The City Council approved an agreement last week to sell 22.5 acres for high-end homes to be built by Hanson Builders and partner Jonathan Builders, of Andover, said Mayor Phil Rice. Final council approval of the project could happen in mid-June.

Plans for Rum River Heights include a swimming pool, possibly a river dock with six boat slips and a grand entrance with scores of trees, boulder retaining walls and a pond with fountains, said Nathan Fair, project co-partner with veteran builder Dean Hanson.

A new intersection will be built on Bunker Lake Boulevard just west of a pedestrian bridge that arches over the road. The developers would pay for subdivision streets, sidewalks, trails, sewers and half of the planned $506,000 intersection, Fair said.

Fair said the 44 houses, each sitting on one-third of an acre, would be priced from $400,000 to $750,000, with the higher price for those with views of the river.

“It looks spectacular,” Rice said. “We are lucky to have that quality of homes being built in there. … We do not have a lot of housing stock of that nature in Anoka.”

According to City Assessor Scott Verney, the median price of an Anoka home is about $130,000.

The state gave the 22.5 acres and adjacent land to the city in 1971, said Eric Thorvig, Anoka’s economic development director. He estimated that the 44 new homes would generate more than $100,000 a year in property taxes.

The purchase agreement calls for the developers to pay the city $10,000 per lot at the property closing.

Thorvig said they also would pay a park dedication fee of about $120,000 that would be used for a local playground, area trails and a nature preserve trailhead.

The site is one of Anoka’s last large city-owned tracts and the project is the first large, single-family housing development since the early 1990s, Thorvig said.

Rice noted that the 200-acre Anoka Nature Preserve borders the north side of the site. The site also connects to a paved bike trail that runs south along the Rum River past the Northstar Commuter Rail station to downtown Anoka.

Rice said six area homeowners may be able to lease slips at a public dock the city plans to build on the river with a trail up to the new homes. The dock also would offer mooring space where boaters could stop and hike up the bluff into the nature preserve with its rolling meadow and oak-filled woods, Thorvig said.

The dock would be built in a strip of the nature preserve and would have to be approved by the Anoka Conservation District, which holds an easement on the preserve, said District Manager Chris Lord. The district’s board will consider the proposal this month and decide if a dock is consistent with district conservation values, Lord said. He said a fishing pier might be a better fit than a dock with boat slips.

Fair said he and Hanson are talking to several banks about financing the project. He said they would like to start building as soon as final city approval is obtained.

“It’s exciting to get this quality of product,” Thorvig said. “It definitely fills a void we have had in our housing. We are looking for move-up housing in our community. We have been seeing families that are looking for a second home move to Ramsey or Andover. It’s the type of housing we hope to get to retain the families we have lost for the past 10 to 15 years.”

 

Jim Adams• 612-673-7658

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