Construction will begin this summer on a gated, 280-unit apartment complex in Apple Valley that recently won the approval of the City Council.

The 14-building development will occupy 20 acres of land northwest of Flagstaff Avenue and 147th Street West, near the Midtown Village and Terrace condominiums, Cedar Isle Village homes and the Fisher Marketplace shopping center.

The City Council unanimously approved a comprehensive plan amendment, rezoning and other steps necessary for the project to move forward at its Feb. 12 meeting.

"This is a different product type than we've seen in Apple Valley," Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland said. "They're bringing something very unique and different."

The complex, to be completed by next winter, will feature two-story buildings with private, ground-level entries, according to the developer, Continental Properties of Menomonee Falls, Wis. Attached and detached garages will be available.

The site will have one gated driveway on Foliage Avenue. An iron fence will surround the property with security gates accessible to residents at pedestrian access points.

The project is part of the "Springs" brand of apartment communities that Continental has built throughout the country. Other locations include the Springs at Egan Drive in Savage, a 288-unit project that is expected to open this year. Continental owns and operates all of its Springs developments, which the company describe as upscale.

The developer's presentation on the Apple Valley location said interior finishes would include black appliances, "luxury" wood laminate flooring and large kitchen islands. Some units will have upgraded cabinets, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Apartments will range from 525-square-foot studios to 1,430-square-foot three-bedroom models, said Eric Thom, Continental's development director. Most of the apartments — 224 of the total 280 — will be one- and two-bedroom units.

"We think this is a great, unique, different housing option for the Apple Valley area," Thom told council members. "We think it's going to be a great transition between the residential Midtown, the single-family [houses] behind us to the commercial in front. We like to be in this kind of location because our residents like to be near amenities like retail and restaurants."

Amenities include a 3,500-square-foot clubhouse with a 24-hour fitness center, a "resort style" pool and an outdoor grilling area. The pet-friendly complex will offer a pet-washing station and a fenced area for pets.

A second gated driveway for emergencies, which the fire department will be able to access, will be on the northern side of the site on 145th Street, said Tom Lovelace, Apple Valley's city planner.

'Upscale' questioned

Council Member Tom Goodwin questioned how well the development would maintain its upscale standard over time, saying that conditions "can slip in 15-20 years."

Thom said Continental had changed some elements of its newer Springs projects, largely replacing carpeting with laminate flooring and changing floor plans to maximize natural light. The company also is retrofitting the interiors of some older locations, putting in laminate flooring and updating kitchen cabinets.

The developer told the council that the Springs apartments would be rented at market rate, but did not specify monthly dollar amounts in the presentation to the city.

"We like to try to pay attention and try to keep up with the times and convert because we want to keep our apartments market rate," Thom said. "We pay very close attention to those amenities. We don't want to fall behind our competition in the marketplace."

"I get the impression you're willing to stay on top of it both outside and inside," Council Member John Bergman said.

Goodwin questioned why townhouse and condominium development, once slated for the northern half of the site where the Springs apartments are going, hadn't gone forward.

Lovelace attributed the change to the economic downturn. He noted that the Springs project includes 160 apartments on the northern half of the site — only eight more than previous plans called for.

The southern half of the Spring site had been zoned for commercial use, but rezoning it for residential use still leaves the city more than 560 acres for commercial development and redevelopment, according to planning documents.

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Woodbury. His e-mail address is