The Woodbury City Council is considering helping Saint Therese of Woodbury finance the construction of a 208-unit senior housing complex on the city's south side..

The council met in a workshop earlier this month to discuss Saint Therese's request to use $50 million in "conduit housing revenue bonds" issued by the city — which offer lower interest rates — to fund the proposed complex south of Bailey Road and west of Radio Drive. The project, abutting the future site of the Bielenberg Gardens mixed-use development, is part of the Urban Village development. Plans call for a 90,000-square-foot retail center with restaurants and a grocery store.

City officials hope the project will spur economic growth in the southern half of the city.

"Woodbury is a progressive city supported by innovative leaders seeking the best options for their aging population," Saint Therese President and CEO Barbara Rode said. "We look forward to serving all Woodbury and east metro area seniors and their families as they journey through the aging process."

A public hearing on the request, which would require a city ordinance authorizing the bond issue, will be held July 30 at City Hall.

Unlike general obligation bonds, which are paid back with property taxes, the security behind housing revenue bonds rests with the revenue generated by the housing development.

Under the proposal, Saint Therese, a faith-based senior housing company, would repay the bond debt so that in case of a default, the city would not be on the hook, officials said.

The need for senior housing has been growing as the suburban population ages. By 2035, one in four suburban residents living in the county will be over age 65, county officials said. A recently released study by the Washington County Housing and Redevelopment Authority estimated Woodbury will need to add about 970 affordable senior housing units by 2020 to keep up with demand.

"Demand will be driven by the expanding local employment base as well as the close proximity to job centers in the Twin Cities core," the report said.

"With the Urban Village master plan, it provides that 'life-cycle housing' within a walkable area," said Woodbury City Planner Eric Searles.

Preleasing at the 307,000- square-foot complex, which will offer one- and two-bedroom units among three buildings, began last fall. Seventy-five percent of the "independent senior apartments" have already been reserved, said Angela Regan, a leasing adviser for St. Therese.

The project, after several delays, is expected to open in late 2015, Regan said.

"Preleasing the first apartments is an important step for our Woodbury campus," Rode said. "Several agreements have been signed and excitement is building."