Two Dakota County cities will begin jump-starting revitalization efforts downtown and along the waterfront after receiving an infusion of grant money from the Metropolitan Council.
Apple Valley's Village Pointe Plaza was awarded $1.15 million toward the latest phase of the Central Village development, which will be located on a 3.65-acre vacant lot near the Metro Red Line and the Apple Valley Transit Station. The money will go toward site acquisition of the mixed-use project, which will boast retail space, a natural foods co-op grocery store and 78 units of independent senior housing.
In Hastings, $980,000 was allocated to transform the historic H.D. Hudson Manufacturing Building into a destination along the Mississippi. The 100,000-square-foot project will include 56 units of housing, community events space, art space, food service and a new public riverfront landing connecting a nearby regional trail to a future transit corridor.
The Met Council funded eight projects for 2015. Grants were recommended by the Livable Communities Advisory Committee, which is chaired by Apple Valley Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland.
The Village Pointe Plaza project helps answer a question city leaders have been pondering for months: How can the suburb accommodate an aging population?
The share of Dakota County's population consisting of seniors, once just 5 percent, is about to soar close to 30 percent, projections show. And aging is happening faster in Apple Valley than in the county as a whole.
Efforts to address that demographic change are being focused in Central Village — a 60-acre stretch of townhouses, office space, shops and restaurants — because it's the city's major hub of activity.
Minnesota-based Ecumen and cooperative housing developer Lifestyle Communities LLC, joined to form OneTwoOne Development, the partnership behind Village Pointe Plaza. The complex would allow active residents age 55 and older to live independently in a communal setting, said Hamann-Roland.
"They want to have fun," she said of seniors, an age group she refers to as "primers" because they are in the prime of their lives. "This opportunity gives them a chance to be able to live in the action of where things are happening," she said. "When people are able to live with vitality and engage with other people, they tend to live longer, happier lives."
The triangular strip of land will also house 42,000-square-feet of commercial space, located about half a mile from the Red Line.
Construction is expected to begin on the site this fall. City leaders estimate that Central Village will be about three quarters of the way developed by the end of 2016.
During the height of the recession, Apple Valley was forced to return a similar $2.5 million grant to the Met Council because the city could not follow through on its proposed Central Village developments in time, said City Council member Ruth Grendahl. Now they're getting some of that money back.
"Let's hope that the timing is right this time," Grendahl said. "We're tired of seeing weeds down there."
City leaders are hoping the new phase of Central Village's development will help spearhead continued growth in suburb's core.
Tim Nichols, co-chief manager of OneTwoOne Development, said he wished to build a senior cooperative in Apple Valley because of its prime location in relation to shopping and transit, as well as the city's willingness to make this proposal a reality.
Oftentimes, city leaders will be itching to attract young families, Nichols said. But increased availability of single-family homes can be a by-product of constructing senior housing units, he said. When given the opportunity, seniors may downsize while remaining within city limits — opening up residential spaces for new families to come in: "the life cycle of housing."
"It really does inspire young families moving into Apple Valley at a price point they can afford, [to come] into a community that they want to raise their family," Nichols said.
Joint developer OneTwoOne is working to build five separate cooperatives, but Apple Valley's and another in Minnetonka are the first to be mapped out. All told, Central Village's complex will cost upward of $20 million.
Hastings will apply the Met Council grant money toward efforts to transform the empty H.D. Hudson Manufacturing building into a riverside tourist attraction.
The 100,000-square-foot building could house apartments and event space, food service and a riverfront landing connecting the site to nearby trails. The $22.4 million project is being funded by a combination of public and private money. There also are plans to improve area parks and trails, and add new features such as an ice rink.
The city hired City Properties Group of Louisville, Ky., for the project. That firm is known for its role in revitalizing downtown Louisville.
Emma Nelson contributed to this report.