Renters will soon join racehorses at Canterbury Park in Shakopee.

Doran Cos. plans to build more than 600 luxury apartments in a gated community on the farm fields next to the horse track. If approved as expected, the 26-acre project will trigger a much larger mixed-use redevelopment of the racetrack and surrounding area.

“It’ll be the first domino,” said Michael Kerski, Shakopee’s director of planning and development.

With this project, 1,100 housing units are slated to be built in Shakopee this year, the most in a dozen years, Kerski said.

The 26-acre parcel is part of a much-larger swath of farmland on the west side of the racetrack that’s being called Canterbury Commons.

The apartment complex would be the second largest for Doran and one of the biggest in the Twin Cities, which is seeing a shift in apartment construction from the central cities to the suburbs.

The project is a joint venture between Doran and Canterbury Development LLC. There’s plenty of space for more apartments and townhouses, said Jeff Maday, media relations manager for Canterbury Park. At this point, however, no more are planned.

Maday said there are 110 acres in out-lots that are now available for development, but another 30 acres could be developed by consolidating the horse stables. The group has been discussing various development plans and ideas for at least a decade and the Doran proposal wasn’t the first for the site.

But Maday said, “With Doran as a partner, the market is ready for this type of development.”

Shakopee wants to add new housing, retail, restaurant and lodging options to satisfy growing demand from residents and visitors who are being drawn by a host of new employers, including Amazon, Shutterfly and Entrust Datacard, which moved its international headquarters to Shakopee in 2015.

For Doran, the project rivals only a mixed-use development in Maple Grove in terms of the number of units. The company is also developing 800 multifamily units in various projects in Brooklyn Park, Hopkins and Maple Grove.

The Canterbury project cleared a critical hurdle Thursday when it received broad support at a public hearing at City Hall. The Shakopee planning commission voted unanimously in favor of recommending that the City Council approve the project at a meeting in mid-July.

There’s another key approval that’s required before construction can begin. The city is considering a 300-acre tax increment financing district that will help fund infrastructure improvements, including the reconstruction of Shenandoah Road, which will connect the project to existing development in the area. That meeting will happen in early September. If all goes well, construction is expected to being in the spring.

Tony Kuechle, senior vice president of development for Doran, said the project will have the kinds of finishes and amenities that will appeal to a range of renters. He expects about 40 percent of the residents will be empty-nesters and the rest a mix of single people, young professionals and couples.

The first phase of the project is a 300-plus-unit building along with gate houses and a clubhouse that will include a fitness center and pool. The project will be surrounded with a 6-foot fence with gated entrances on the east and south sides. The second phase will be a 320-plus-unit building that will also have a clubhouse with a pool.

Kuechle said rents will average $1.70 per square foot, so rents will range from $1,322 to $2,200 per month for one- to three-bedroom units.

Thomas O’Neil, vice president for Dougherty Mortgage, said there are now six projects under construction throughout the metro area that will each have at least 300 units. That’s up from an average of one a year since 2010.

“The current crop of large projects is a major shift in project scale,” O’Neil said.

The current construction includes the Hub, a 26-story, 400-unit tower in the Stadium Village neighborhood near the University of Minnesota. And the 20-story Nordhaus tower is nearing completion in the St. Anthony neighborhood across the river from downtown Minneapolis.

O’Neil said that across the metro about 50 apartment complexes, with approximately 7,100 units, are now under construction.