Approvals falling into place for Ramsey development

Managing Editor
Mandy has been with ABC Newspapers since 2007, when she joined the staff as the editor of the Anoka County Union. She has been the managing editor of the UnionHerald and Blaine Spring Lake Park Life since 2014.

Ramsey City Council continues to plow through the long list of approvals needed for a nearly 300-unit housing development.

Late last month the council approved the final plat, a zoning amendment to the planned unit development and the vacation of certain easements for the first phase of the Capstone Homes’ Riverstone development.

The Riverstone development will be located near Bunker Lake Boulevard and Puma streets.

Capstone expects to build out the development in 50-unit phases, the first in the southeast corner of the property located near Bunker Lake Boulevard and Puma Streets.

Approval of the final plat came with a number of contingencies staff will be working out with the developer.

Street names in the new development are a sticking point.

According to the naming conventions for Anoka County’s street grid, they are scheduled to be named Tiger, Quagga and Sloth streets.

“The developer would like us to look at something a little more marketable,” said Community Development Director Tim Gladhill. “We try to balance that with our public safety needs to follow the grid.”

Gladhill said this isn’t the first time Ramsey has amended street names, and it won’t likely be the last. The changes will be considered this month. Council will also need to weigh in on Capstone’s development agreement.

Assessment agreement

Council also unanimously approved the assessment agreement for public improvements to Bunker Lake Boulevard and Puma Street. Both roads need to be extended to serve Riverstone Development and properties owned by Hageman Holdings on both sides of Bunker Lake Boulevard.

Forty percent of the improvement costs will be assessed to benefiting property owners, with the city of Ramsey paying for the balance.

The city considers the extensions to be arterial infrastructure that benefits the community as a whole.

“These are collector roads,” Economic Development Manager Patrick Brama said, likening them to Alpine Drive or Sunwood Drive that drivers use to get around the city. “Because there is a larger benefit for the larger community, the city pays a share.”

The developer will pay 100 percent of the costs for internal infrastructure.

Mayor Sarah Strommen pointed to the unique situation of this infrastructure expansion, where there are development projects in the works, including the Capstone project and the business park.

This is different than investments the city has made in The Cor, where they hoped it would lead to future development.

Brama said along with the return on investment through property taxes with both the housing and commercial developments, there are also benefits like creating jobs close to home for Ramsey residents and more service offerings in the community.

“These are the types of projects that will generate traffic up Armstrong Boulevard and past The Cor, which will start turning heads for people interested in restaurants and retail in Ramsey,” Brama said. “We’re not putting infrastructure in ahead of development, we have development here justifying the investment.”

The council also agreed to order plans and specs for the Puma Street utility extension.

Property sale

The city will also sell a 1.9-acre piece of land to Capstone for Riverstone Development.

The transaction is a result of the city’s desire to realign Puma Street, creating a parcel of land that was contiguous with the Riverstone project.

The purchase price for an outlot did cause some discussion and disagreement from a couple of council members.

Capstone offered to pay $25,000 per acre, for a total of $47,500. During negotiations, the Economic Development Authority made a counter offer of $35,000 per acre, which Capstone did not accept.

Council Member Kristine Williams, who also serves on the EDA, said she thought the land value for this piece of property should be higher because it is a higher density corner.

Capstone is planning to build townhomes in this part of Riverstone Development.

Steve Bona of Capstone Homes said the original plan was to put the townhome units on the south side of the development along the railroad tracks and Highway 10, but a market study extended the timeline for the townhomes and pushed them north “because we believe the market will come back for townhomes.”

“We weren’t necessarily interested in purchasing this property in the beginning,” Bona said. But it had been suggested by the city because of the road alignment.

Bona also said it needed to be taken into account that Capstone will be paying assessments on the infrastructure needed to extend Bunker Lake Boulevard and Puma Street, adding project costs of about $18,000 per acre.

“A lot of properties that we look at, the infrastructure is already built around the perimeter of the property, and that adds a lot of value,” Bona said.

Both Williams and Council Member Mark Kuzma voted no on the land sale.

Council Member John LeTourneau referenced the council’s commitment to moving city-owned land.

“I would absolutely love to have more money for this parcel but the offer that we have is solid and it falls within our standard deal range,” LeTourneau said.

Strommen said she appreciated the EDA’s effort to go back and counter with a purchase price that was in the middle, rather than the bottom, of the city’s price range.

“Given that we are still within the deal range and staff is comfortable with it, I am going to support it,” Strommen said. “I just don’t see another mechanism or another form for us to continue to negotiate this.”

Proceeds from the sale of this land will be dedicated to the city’s park fund.

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