Workforce housing proposed in Ramsey

MWF Properties of Minneapolis wants to build in Ramsey.

According to its March 26 presentation to the Ramsey City Council, the company is proposing an approximately 47-unit rental apartment building across the street from city hall.

“Are you locked in on that location? Perhaps it could go somewhere else,” said Councilmember Mark Kuzma.

The close proximity of the four-acre site, which is at Sunwood Drive and Sapphire Street, to the rail station adds to the marketability, said Chris Stokka, MWF Properties development manager.

According to Stokka, the project needs to be within a half-mile of the rail station to receive high points when the company applies for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency’s (MHFA) Housing Tax Credit (HTC) program.

The MHFA website describes the HTC program as a reduction in tax liability to developers and investors in exchange for providing affordable housing.

This project will be workforce family housing with two- and three-bedroom apartments, Stokka said.

The building itself would be five stories and have underground parking, said Peter Worthington of MWF Properties.

MWF Properties is also asking the city to contribute $510,000 to the project, which could be done though tax increment financing, grant and/or land cost reduction, said Tim Gladhill, Ramsey development services manager.

If the project receives assistance from the city, it would give the project more points toward HTC selection, he said.

The HTC program reduces tax liability to developers and investors in exchange for providing affordable housing, according to the MHFA website.

Before he would consider any action on the project, Councilmember David Elvig said he would need to see the project’s pro forma.

Elvig also had concerns about the planned location, he said.

That location is where the city wanted a mixed use building with shops on the ground floor, Elvig said.

There is a lot more that needs to be done on the site plan before the project comes to the council for approval, Gladhill said.

MWF Properties would like start construction in March 2014 with the units being completed by December 2014, Stokka said.

According to its website, MWF was started in 1999 and has built apartments and townhomes in New Brighton, Rochester, Northeast Minneapolis, Vadnais Heights, Waconia, Fairmont, Forest Lake and Maplewood as well projects in Iowa and Illinois.

The proposed Ramsey project would be constructed to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) construction standards to ensure an environmentally friendly project and will include a exercise facility, community rooms, storage lockers and on-site laundry, said Stokka.

This type of housing attracts people who work in professions like food service, health care and education as well as people with disabilities, single parents and students, he said.

Although the council tabled any action on the project, the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), which comprises the council, rejected an offer by the company to purchase the four-acre site at its March 26 meeting.

According to City Attorney Bill Goodrich, the HRA decided against the offer and declined to make a counter offer.

The HRA did encourage MWF Properties to continue to work with staff.

Tammy Sakry is at tammy.sakry@ecm-inc.com

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