Anoka moving ahead on high-end housing development on city land

The Anoka City Council has opted to move ahead with Landmark Development and Hanson Builders on a new high-end home development north of Bunker Lake Boulevard near Seventh Avenue.

The developer is proposing 48 single-family homes on the 22 acres of city-owned property west of the Rum River Library. Those houses would range in value from $400,000 to $650,000.

While this is not an approval for the development, the next stages will be working with Landmark to execute a purchase agreement, a development agreement and a plat, said City Planner and Economic Development Coordinator Erik Thorvig.

The city saw a second round of presentations from Landmark Development (Hanson Builders) as well as SW Wold Monday. Both developers are interested in building a new neighborhood on the northern border of the city.

Scott Wold retooled his original plans that included a mix of townhomes and single-family homes to just single-family. He had originally followed the current zoning on the property that calls for multiple family dwellings changes would need to be made to the zoning for the development to only include single-family homes.

Wold also added features like a neighborhood pool to his design.

He also was proposing to buy the land outright from the city.

“We believe in this site and we’re willing to put all of our money up front,” Wold said. “We don’t think the city should have to pay our way.”

On Monday Landmark provided a more detailed explanation of its financing proposal. The plan presented by Nathan Fair and Chris Anderson was modeled on successes Landmark has had in other communities.

Landmark proposed paying the city lot by lot (offering $10,000 each) as it sells to the builders – Hanson Builders and Jonathan Homes.

While Landmark had asked the city to hold the land to help fund the project, the council is pushing for more traditional financing that would present less risk to the city.

“I’m not comfortable having the taxpayers on the hook if something goes wrong,” said Councilmember Jeff Weaver.

Fair said Landmark co-owner Dean Hanson is willing to work in securing financing to buy the property outright.

The neighborhood would be part of an association, in order to maintain the communal areas which likely will include a park, fire pit and outdoor pool.

But when it came to financing, the council strayed from Landmark’s proposal.

Weighing the two proposals from Wold and Landmark, the council was careful to point out nothing was a done deal.

“I don’t think anybody is excluded from the project until the ink is signed,” said Councilmember Jeff Weaver.

But city staff will move ahead on planning with Landmark and Hanson, based on the council’s request.

Both Weaver and Mayor Phil Rice said they liked both proposals, but Rice said favored Hanson because he felt Anoka would get a more unique development of homes.

Hanson’s higher-end exterior finishes on all sides of the homes also scored high marks with the council.

Anoka has been known for holding out on development in order to get what it really wants, said City Manager Tim Cruikshank, and there is still negotiating to do.

“I don’t think a deal has ever really driven this council to make a decision and I don’t think that will start now,” he said. “We can wait for the product that the council wants. We can wait forever.”

If the approval process goes ahead on schedule, Hanson had told the council he plans to have models ready for this fall’s Parade of Homes.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]