St. Anthony city leaders have thrown their support behind a plan to build high-density housing on a site where affordable mobile homes had stood for decades.
With little fanfare or debate, the City Council voted Tuesday to approve a proposal to construct up to 430 units in three buildings on what was once the Lowry Grove mobile home park.
The council rejected the developer’s previous plan for the property in October, citing concerns over density, traffic and disruptions to the neighborhood’s character.
The retooled plan cuts density from about 41 units per acre to 28. What would remain on the 15-acre site is a mix of market-rate apartments, senior housing and an assisted living facility.
“I’m inclined to agree that we should move forward on this,” Mayor Jerry Faust said at the meeting.
The council’s decision follows nearly two years of controversy after the park was sold in 2016 to The Village, an affiliate of Wayzata-based Continental Property Group. The sale prompted widespread debate and a heated legal battle to keep Lowry Grove open. <URL destination="http://www.startribune.com/after-mobile-home-park-closes-residents-face-daunting-unknowns/449665513/">
The park’s closure last June displaced nearly 100 households, many of them low income.</URL> All the mobile homes, some too old or costly for families to move, have since been cleared from the property.
At Tuesday’s meeting, some residents decried the project’s lack of affordable housing to replace homes lost. City officials had previously said that affordability would be a crucial piece of any project that takes Lowry Grove’s place.
In the current proposal, 79 apartment units — about a fifth of the number proposed — would be affordable to those living at 80 percent of the area median income, or $68,000 for a family of four, according to Metropolitan Council figures. That means rent would be less than $1,265 for studio apartments and $1,356 for one-bedroom units.
Former Lowry Grove homeowners said they paid about $450 monthly before the mobile home park was closed.
“The affordable housing component is a total joke,” resident Kate Martin said.
The developer had looked at putting affordable housing on a nearby property where Bremer Bank now sits. City staffers said Tuesday that nonprofit developer Aeon is now pursuing development of that site. Aeon had worked with Lowry Grove residents in their efforts to match The Village’s $6 million offer and buy the mobile home park themselves.
Alan Arthur, president of Aeon, confirmed Wednesday that the nonprofit has an interest in developing affordable housing in St. Anthony.
Several residents asked City Council members on Tuesday to delay their vote until more details emerged about the potential Aeon project. Faust said his backing for the current proposal was tied to his confidence that a separate affordable housing development will soon unfold.
“I would probably bet my last dollar … that it will happen,” the mayor said. “I wouldn’t do this if I wasn’t very, very sure that this would in fact come to pass.”