Mounds View council approves first two steps for workforce housing apartment complex

The Mounds View City Council approved the first two of four steps for the development of a 60-unit workforce housing apartment complex at the May 8 meeting.

A rendering of the MWF Properties LLC proposed workforce housing apartment complex that would be located at the northwest corner of Mounds View Boulevard and Groveland Road in Mounds View. (Photo provided by the City of Mounds View)

MWF Properties LLC has proposed the development of properties located at the northwest corner of Mounds View Boulevard and Groveland Road. The proposed project will consist of workforce housing units, which are designed for moderate-income, working class families, often residents in entry-level positions, food service, retail or seniors. These homes are aimed at households that earn a maximum of 60 percent of the area’s median income.

MWF  has a strong reputation as long term property owners, having not sold a property in company history. The company has developed many affordable housing developments in Minnesota, including nearby Lakes Run Apartments in New Brighton.

The council approved MWF’s request to rezone two of the four properties to R4 High Density Residential District. The parcel consists of four total properties, including 2901 and 2865 Mounds View Boulevard, 7980 Groveland Road and unaddressed vacant property 80xx Groveland Road. Previously, 2901 Mounds View Boulevard was zoned as B3 Highway Business District and 80xx Groveland was zoned R1 Single-Family Residential District. All four properties are now appropriately zoned for a residential housing development.

Eleven residents that live in the surrounding area voiced their opposition to the project, many of whom had traffic safety concerns. Many residents said they believed a 60-unit apartment building would add a considerable amount of traffic to Groveland Road.

MWF Development Manager Chris Stokka addressed some of the residents’ concerns at the meeting.

According to a report from the Institute of Traffic Engineering, when comparing general commercial to a multi-family apartment complex, there is up to 10 times more traffic for a commercial property, Stokka said. For convenience stores, which a B3 zoned district would allow, the traffic count is significantly more.

“In terms of traffic, this would actually be a downed zone for the B3 parcel,” Stokka said.

An aerial view of the plan for the proposed workforce housing complex by MWF Properties. The council has approved the first two steps of this development, on the condition that MWF funds a traffic study. Many residents are considered that the complex would add a significant amount of traffic to Groveland Road. With a traffic study, the city would be better equip to request access for the complex onto Mounds View Boulevard. (Photo provided by the City of Mounds View)

The council also approved a conditional use permit for the proposed project, under the condition that the MWF conducts a traffic study on the area.

To address residents’ concerns with additional traffic on Groveland Road, the council is considering a proposal to Ramsey County to request for the complex to have access onto Mounds View Boulevard. City Administrator Jim Ericson said there have been informal discussions with the Ramsey County Commissioner on this issue, but the city has not received a formal response. He said a traffic study would better equip the city to advocate for a ‘right in, right out’ onto Mounds View Boulevard, as opposed to access onto Groveland.

“Questions about traffic that have been brought up and brought up repeatedly today,” Council member Bill Bergeron said at the meeting. “I think this is of  very serious concern, traffic and safety in the neighborhood. I am thrilled to hear those concerns, and I promise, whether you’re here for step three and step four or not, I will be. I know the developers are concerned with this, I know the staff is, and this is going to be a concern that is forefront in our minds for the affected residents,” Bergeron said.

Now that the property is rezoned and the conditional-use permit has been approved, MWF will begin to apply for grants and begin the process for a TIF-designation.

As a workforce housing development, MWF will be applying for housing tax credits through the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency. There is a competitive application process among other developers throughout the state to earn these federal tax credits and 1 in 3 applicants are typically approved.

For a TIF designation, MWF must apply through the city’s Economic Development Authority. TIF is a public financing method that is used as a subsidy for redevelopment or other community-improvement projects. Through TIF, cities divert future property tax revenue increases from the designated area toward a development project.

If this financial assistance is obtained, the project can then apply for a major subdivision to combine the four lots into one. The last step will be the development review, which will lay out more details on issues such as parking, landscaping and more. Recommendations from the traffic study will also be considered by the council when reviewing these steps.

If approved, the project will be completed in several phases, with construction planned for spring 2018 through spring 2019.
Questions about the project can be directed to City Planner Jon Sevald at 763-717-4022 or [email protected]

Contact Sarah Burghardt at [email protected]