The city of Ramsey is nearing the sale of an almost 14-acre parcel in The COR to a local developer.
Across the street from The Draw park, PSD, LLC is planning to phase an apartment development on over 9 acres.
An adjoining property of more than 4 acres would have a commercial or office use along the busier Sunwood Drive that goes through the heart of The COR. What goes there has yet to be determined. The two properties would be separated by a new road constructed on PSD’s dime, but the city would be responsible for maintenance.
“We’re finally starting to see some significant wins here. This will add to the tax base,” Councilmember Randy Backous said, acknowledging that the tax revenue will be used to first pay off the city’s Tax Increment Finance District 14 obligations.
The Ramsey Housing and Redevelopment Authority on a 6-0 vote July 22, with Councilmember Jason Tossey absent, approved a purchase agreement and land sale price of approximately $1.9 million. The Ramsey HRA only includes members of the Ramsey City Council, but has separate taxing authority and the ability to buy and sell land.
Ted LaFrance, economic development manager, said the $3.12 per square foot price is on the higher end of the range set by the council with assistance from the city’s hired CBRE real estate broker. CBRE’s commission according to its agreement with the city is 5 percent of the land sale price, will amounts to about $94,000 in this case.
LaFrance said at the HRA meeting that the closing date could be Aug. 11, but a week after the meeting said it may be pushed back to mid-September so that survey and title work and site planning work can happen first.
Matt Kuker, of PSD, LLC said the market studies indicate this area could support one apartment building of up to 120 units at this time. The timing of a second building that could include another 100 to 120 units would depend on how fast the first building fills up.
Kuker anticipated the apartment buildings would be no taller than three stories high. The rental rates would accommodate, “the working class, meat and potatoes families.” It would not be low-income subsidized housing, but not high luxury either.
This area of The COR has seen a lot of apartment development activity.
The 230-unit Residence at The COR is marketed to the higher-end renters with such amenities as a heated salt water swimming pool. About 80 percent of the units have been leased to date.
CommonBond Communities is looking at constructing a 47-unit, three-story building west of The Residence that would be rented to individuals or families earning 60 percent or less of the area median income. However, the closing date deadline is not until May 1, 2015 because CommonBond is working on securing financing.
The Residence received two loans totalling $8.34 million from the city of Ramsey. CommonBond could receive a $250,000 subsidy from the city.
PSD, LLC is not requesting any financial subsides, according to LaFrance.
Kuker’s PSD, LLC partner Jim Deal said it is important to keep developing residential property in The COR to bring in more commercial developers.
“Most commercial businesses are waiting on getting more rooftops,” Deal said.
Kuker said PSD’s “wants to see development happen in The COR” with it owning 32 acres of developed and undeveloped land in this area, including the Ramsey Professional Center that houses the Fountains of Ramsey and the Northwest Metro VA Clinic.
Adding a residential property to this area “diversifies our portfolio,” Kuker said. PSD was involved in developing 63-unit and 84-unit apartment buildings in Alexandria eight months ago and both are almost fully rented out.
“We think we’re bringing a project to the community that there will be demand for,” Kuker said.
The developer asked PSD to not reveal its name until the property sale closes and its agreement with PSD is finalized, Kuker said.
PSD would pay for constructing a local road between the two outlots to city specs. Then the city would maintain the road.
Tim Gladhill, community development director, told the council that the developer will need to meet the city’s minimum standards not only for building appearance, height and setbacks, but for parking as well.
Parking facilities will be a major discussion point going forward, the city and PSD said. Gladhill said the city’s existing development plan calls for another parking ramp in the area, but city staff will need to review this after a specific proposal is submitted. It would likely be above-ground parking because the ground water table in the area is high and drainage is expensive, Gladhill said.
Kuker said while PSD is not opposed to the idea of contributing to a parking ramp construction costs, the price per square foot for a ramp can be difficult to justify when there is a lot of vacant land nearby for a surface parking lot.
What happens on the southern four acres is less definite. Kuker said the city’s vision is either an office building or a hotel. PSD is undergoing a market study. Kuker said this is slated to be the most dense area of The COR. It could really be called “the core of The COR” because of its proximity to the Ramsey Municipal Center and the Northstar rail station so he anticipates smaller storefronts that encourage walking traffic, different than the shopping center on the west end of The COR that includes Coborns.
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