Housing developer seeks extension of site plan approval

A major housing project approved by the Coon Rapids City Council three years ago has never got off the ground.

RLK Landholdings will be back before the Coon Rapids City Council Aug. 7 seeking another one-year extension of its original site plan approval for a 204-unit apartment building and a 181-unit senior housing facility at Springbrook Drive and 94th Avenue north of Coon Rapids Boulevard.

The Coon Rapids Planning Commission has recommended approval of the one-year site plan extension.

Back in July 2010, on a 5-2 vote, the council approved a site plan and preliminary plat for the project on 10.43 acres of property abutting both TH 610 and Highway 10/47.

Because site plan approvals are only good for one year, RLK Landholdings has been back before the Coon Rapids Planning Commission in 2011 and 2012 seeking one-year extensions, which have been granted.

But since the 2012 extension, revisions have been made to city code including changes to the site plan extension process, according to Planner Scott Harlicker.

Under the new policy approved by the council, applicants are now only allowed one site plan extension for a maximum of one year and it must be approved by the council with a recommendation from the commission.

That’s why previous extensions for the RLK project have just required commission action and why this latest extension request has to go to the council with the commission’s recommendation.

“Even though the applicant has been granted two previous extensions, they are applying for this extension under the new code and are entitled to request one more extension,” Harlicker wrote in his report to the council.

But this will be the last site plan extension available to RLK for the project, according to Harlicker.

If the project is not underway by this time next year, then RLK will have to start the application process for square one.

“The extension is needed to allow RLK Landholdings additional time to procure financing,” Harlicker told the commission.

In recommending the one-year site plan extension to the council, the commission found that the proposed use is consistent with the city’s comprehensive land use plan and the project meets applicable city code standards.

In a letter to the city, Song Lo, an attorney representing RLK Landholdings, stated that RLK is “very close to completely financing the project but just needs a little more time to make sure everything comes together as planned.”

“We are confident that this development will come together for the good of the city and its future residents,” Lo wrote in his letter.

The development site lies within Port Evergreen and in updating the master plan for the port on Coon Rapids Boulevard in 2009, the council changed the land use of this parcel from office to mixed use residential, including high density residential, providing the impetus for this housing project.

Under the RJK Landholdings plan, the apartment building would be a mix of one- and two-bedroom units, while the senior housing facility would comprise 32 memory care units, 10 acute care assisted units, 48 assisted living units and 98 congregate care units.

There would be 202 underground parking spaces for the apartment building and 97 for the senior facility, with 74 surface spaces for the senior housing and 111 for the apartment building.

Access to the site would be from 94th Avenue.

According to the approved site plan, open space would total 4.27 acres, exceeding the code requirement of 2.36 acres, with a central commons area of some 30,500 square feet to include a playground, perimeter sidewalks, a preserved stand of mature oak trees and open space for an active recreation area.

Open space around the buildings would be used as a walking path as well as access for emergency vehicles.

The apartment building, which would have market rate rents, would have three entrances with a large common area at the main lobby and most of the units would include decks.

For the sewer and watermain work to serve the site, the council has approved a feasibility report and ordered the project plans to be prepared.

No public hearing was not required because no properties are affected except those owned by the developer.

However, because the housing project has not moved forward, those plans and specifications have not been brought back to the council for approval and for the advertisement of bids.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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