The site of an unfinished condominium project in Burnsville’s Heart of the City redevelopment district could be getting a new life as an independent-living senior housing development.
United Properties has proposed a 52-unit senior cooperative housing property on the portion of the Uptown Landing site where two 37-unit condo buildings were planned but never built. The senior project would be built by United Properties under its Applewood Pointe brand.
Since 2003 United has built two Applewood Pointes in Bloomington, two in Roseville, and one each in Maple Grove, Woodbury and New Brighton. It has proposed a third in Bloomington and is the early planning stages for one in Shoreview, according to Brian Carey, a senior vice president.
“We’ve been interested in Burnsville for awhile,” Carey said. “The Heart of the City is a pretty unique new urban location with shops, restaurants, a pharmacy, a grocery store, the Burnsville Performing Arts Center.” He said United Properties has a “handshake agreement” for the 1.8-acre site with the current owner, Pak Real Estate Investment of St. Paul.
The proposed development would fill the Uptown Landing site, leaving three vacant parcels in the Heart of the City.
The proposal was warmly received by the City Council at a work session last week. “You have a green light to move forward,” Mayor Elizabeth Kautz told United Properties Vice President Alex Hall.
The company recently lost a bid to acquire the site of the former Northrop School in Minneapolis when the school board awarded the property to a charter school partner.
And it has yet to receive a response to a proposal it made last fall to build an Applewood Pointe in the Village at Mendota Heights — like Heart of the City, a redevelopment aimed at creating a suburban downtown.
Burnsville Community Development Director Jenni Faulkner said the plans would be reviewed and approved by city planners and the council. United Properties is seeking financial help from the city for the project, which is in a tax increment financing district that allows would-be tax money from the property to pay certain development costs.
Hall said the company received positive feedback from a recent survey of area seniors gauging their interest in the project. All Applewood Pointes have financing insured by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which requires projects to be at least 60 percent presold. The HUD insurance also requires the buyer — or one buyer in the case of a married couple — to be at least 62.
Selling out hasn’t been a problem with other projects, Carey said. One of the Bloomington projects sold out quickly despite being built during the recession, he said.
United Properties’ pitch comes as senior projects planned in Rosemount and Savage have been put on hold, their developers saying they were backing out due to a soft market created by a surge in development in the south metro area.
“They were probably correct for the type of product they were planning to build,” Carey said. He said the recently built and stalled projects were primarily for assisted-care facilities.
Applewood Pointe is geared for independent seniors, a different and generally younger market. The facilities have amenities — like woodworking shops, libraries, club rooms and raised plots for gardeners — but don’t provide services, such as meals or in-home care.
The developments offer 12 different floor plans, all named for apple varieties such as Delicious, Fuji and Honeycrisp. They average about 1,400 square feet with an average price of about $290,000.
Cooperatives differ from condos in that they are owned by a nonprofit corporation holding a master mortgage. Residents buy shares of the company.
The project appears to satisfy Burnsville’s objective of limiting rental units in Heart of the City as part of the city’s overall goal of 70 percent owner-occupied housing. At a work session in December, Kautz reminded council members the city denied a developer’s proposal to build senior rentals in Heart of the City.