May 26, 2023 at 12:54 p.m.
A work session for North Branch City Council last week focused on details about a proposal to build a 65 unit apartment complex on the old main street school site, (to right in L-shape with Highway 95 along the bottom) with special income requirements to designate it workforce housing. The apartments in the proposed development would be up to four bedrooms, rents would be kept anywhere from $100 to $200 below market.
Presenter for ReuterWalton, Paul Keenan stated, these are not subsidized housing but are meant to ease the strain of housing costs. Keenan said analysis showed there is existing demand in North Branch and at the 65-unit number the project will be able to support full time management while achieving the rental rates ReuterWalton has in mind. Keenan noted the company also has apartments in Cambridge and staff will be able to work both sites.
He added that the former school site is a good centrally-located parcel, close to schools (on Grand Avenue) and the infusion of economic activity from tenants will benefit downtown.
The area is guided for housing, but there could be other uses as well. Mayor Schieber noted as a part of Central Business District zoning there’s potential for more intensive and/or commercial development. The property, on Highway 95 a couple blocks west of Grand Avenue, has been vacant since a turn-of-the century schoolhouse was razed.
Council member Kelly Neider made it clear that she opposes the plan. When the city saw a similar proposal about a year ago, she also opposed the city offering any official support. Other council members basically asked questions and took in the details.
Keenan said ReuterWalton isn’t seeking any direct city fiscal assistance but the letter of support will go a long way toward Minnesota housing finance program qualification. The company is holding a neighborhood informational session to get feedback on the layout and hear concerns, residents in the general area should watch for a mailer and information may be posted on the city website.
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