A team of Twin Cities developers is putting the final touches on a plan to build an unusual apartment complex that will bring much-needed affordable housing to a key site in Richfield.
The proposed Chamberlain will have 316 rental apartments in six three-story buildings, including three that are existing and will be renovated. The $65 million project is the first joint venture between Kraus-Anderson and Inland Development Partners, which hired Urban Works to design the building.
The site is bounded by 66th Street to the north, Cedar Avenue to the east, 17th Avenue to the west and 68th Street to the south. The city owns almost all of the land and plans to sell it to the development team, which already has a purchase agreement on the existing apartment buildings.
Richfield Community Development Director John Stark said the project is also part of a long-term effort to create a new 16-block parkway that extends between the city’s north and south borders. The project will represent a two-block section of the parkway.
“We envision it being similar to Minnehaha Parkway in south Minneapolis, without the creek,” Stark said.
A bit more than decade ago, houses on several of the blocks were demolished after it was determined that noise pollution from nearby Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport couldn’t be affordably mitigated through the Metropolitan Airports Commission’s sound insulation program. In 2005, in the first phase of what’s known as the city’s Cedar Corridor Redevelopment plan, Target and Home Depot built stores at Cedar and 66th.
“We had hoped that future phases would come more quickly,” Stark said. “We are a bit behind schedule.”
To help keep rents lower than market rate in the area and to pay for an extension of Richfield Parkway, the developers are asking the city to offer tax-increment financing.
“We are working closely with the city of Richfield, which is a strategic partner and has been instrumental in helping to develop the property,” said Kent Carlson, partner of Inland Development Partners.
Though rents haven’t yet been established, 20 percent of the units will be available to people who earn half the median area income; the remainder of the units will have rents that are expected to be below market rate for comparable new units the area, according to Matt Alexander, vice president of development for Kraus-Anderson Development.
Already, the 33 units in the three existing buildings are considered workforce housing based on current rents and are expected to remain so even after renovation.
The topic of affordable rentals in the suburbs has been particularly controversial in recent months. With market-rate housing in short supply and high demand in the inner-ring suburbs, several large apartment buildings have been bought by out-of-state investors who are renovating the units and adding amenities, increasing rents and forcing existing tenants who can’t afford the higher rents to move.
Kraus-Anderson Construction will be the general contractor of the Chamberlain. Pending city land-use and financing approvals, construction is expected to begin in spring 2018 with the first units opening in spring 2019.