The Minnetonka City Council has approved plans for a 49-unit affordable housing complex, a project that council members called a peek at the future of housing in the suburb.
The apartment complex, tentatively named Shady Oak Crossings, would be built on a parcel of city-owned commercial land near Shady Oak Road and Mainstreet in Hopkins. The council authorized the site and building review, parcel rezoning and sale of the land to developer Ron Clark Construction on a 6-1 vote.
“Minnetonka is a fully developed community, and the expectation is that there is going to be a need for greater density housing as we look forward,” Council Member Brad Wiersum said. “We’re going to be looking at apartment opportunities on small properties again and again and again.”
The building plan underwent what Mayor Terry Schneider called a “substantial redesign” since concept plans were first presented in February. Many of those changes were a response to neighbors critical of the building’s size.
The original gable roof became flat, the building’s height dropped from 52 to 37 feet and the number of apartments was cut from 56 to 49. The complex is now split between two and three stories, according to the latest plans, and would include an exercise room, playground area, green space and a parking lot off a residential street.
“We feel we’ve worked incredibly hard to address a lot of the issues and concerns that you have brought up,” Mike Waldo with Ron Clark Construction told council members. “I think the result is a project we all can be proud of over time.”
The complex would include 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units, with rents ranging from $800 to $1,200, according to the city. The developer’s proposal fits within Minnetonka’s definition of affordable housing, with all units available to residents who make 60 percent of the average median income.
“Most of our new projects have some component of affordability,” said Julie Wischnack, community development director for the city. “It’s not a new thing for Minnetonka.” As examples, she pointed to several affordable housing projects in the city, including Overlook on the Creek and At Home Apartments.
The city plans to sell the land, now the site of a couple small businesses, for $734,400. Ron Clark Construction would pay for it through tax credit financing, Wischnack said; the developer will learn if they are approved for the financing by next October.
The deal must close and construction begin by 2020, according to city documents. The City Council is expected to approve a second reading of the land sale authorization on Oct. 23.
Schneider said the project would be “a great asset to the city” and one that shows the need for more multifamily housing as the council updates its comprehensive plan. “It will be what the newer generation is looking for,” he said.
A couple residents spoke in support of the project Monday, when the council took its vote.
“I think our community is better off when our city can offer more choices in affordable apartments,” Jerry Nystuen said. “We hope that other people can have the same amenities that we have.”
Kerri Fischer, an employment specialist for ICA Food Shelf, which serves the west metro suburbs, said the complex will benefit residents from recent high school graduates to senior citizens.
“The access to affordable housing in the Minnetonka community is very important for individuals and families to live and be self-sustaining,” Fischer said. The project, she added, “will contribute to a sense of place and add vibrancy to this Minnetonka neighborhood.”