At some point in 2019, the citizens of New Brighton will likely see the first visible outcome of the City’s new Comprehensive Plan when the former New Brighton Elementary school and surrounding lands are redeveloped into the initial components of a mixed use neighborhood. The anticipated townhomes, affordable senior units, and affordable workforce housing will immediately address a number of community goals, and Citizens have already reached out seeking to be on a waiting list for units.
At the present time, no definitive plans are in place and there is no formal application up for consideration; however, the developers did share an initial site plan with surrounding landowners in late October, and feedback from that meeting was used to guide improvements to the conceptual development. The biggest concerns, comments, and questions from neighbors focused on the density of the plan, whether the uses were appropriate, safety concerns (both traffic & pedestrian), the location of public open space, access to the site, and the relation of tall townhomes to nearby single family homes. City representatives heard these concerns and directed the developers to revisit their concept following the meeting. Simultaneously, the City worked to acquire additional property in the area to contribute to desired solutions. The end result of these efforts is a new plan for development anticipated to come forward sometime in early 2019. Important site characteristics that will benefit the community include:
- A four-way intersection at Old Highway 8 and 8th Avenue NW. Soon to be acquired land south of Old Highway 8 will allow 8th Avenue NW to continue south of the highway to the east of existing businesses. This will allow the intersection to be redesigned for inclusion of a stoplight or large roundabout which in turn will regulate northbound traffic and make access to 8th Avenue NW easier following development. Importantly, this change will also allow for safer ingress & egress to & from businesses along Old Highway 8, and for a more efficient use of land in the southern portion of this development. Staff and the City Council had contemplated buying additional land to accommodate improvements to address traffic and pedestrian concerns, and public input helped solidify this course of action.
- Park Location and Townhome Locations Updated. The City requested the developers shift all parkland to be along 8th Avenue, and orient the new townhomes towards Old Highway 8 and the proposed senior housing. This change coupled with potential berming and plantings should significantly improve the transition between this development and directly fronting homes to the west.
- Pedestrian safety and traffic. Along with the traffic control at 8th Avenue and Old Highway 8, additional improvements along 8th Avenue can also be incorporated to improve pedestrian safety and slow down traffic. Options may include curb bump outs at intersections to slow traffic and reduce crossing distances, raised intersections which force vehicles to slow down upon approach, or possibly mini roundabouts at intersections to both slow traffic and minimize crossing distances.
With regards to overall density and land use, these items did not change as both will be compliant with the new City’s comprehensive plan that was recently approved following a nearly two-year effort. “Housing” was ranked in 2017 as the second most critical issue to residents (second only to safe drinking water), and feedback gathered during two community workshops, a series of on-line surveys, various pop-up events throughout the City, and multiple Commission and Council meetings identified this land as an ideal location for what is proposed.
In January, the City held a public hearing to conditionally rezone this land to R-3B in compliance with the new comprehensive plan, which will allow the development proposal to come forward as a Planned Residential Development (PRD). The conditional rezoning was approved, and we now anticipate receiving a complete development application in early 2019. If you would like to be notified once a complete application is submitted and available for review, you may request to be included on our New Brighton Elementary email distribution list. Please send your request to Ben Gozola (email@example.com) to receive future mailings.
New Brighton Elementary School was originally built in 1939, and was owned and operated by the Mounds View School District for approximately 39 years before being closed in the late 1970’s. The building was then used by the School District as a Community Resource Center for another five years before being sold to the Korean United Methodist Church around 1983. The Church operated on the site until 2017 until they decided to move to a newer facility. Given that the City had identified this area for redevelopment dating back to the 1980’s, the City chose to make an offer on the land and was one of four bidders on the private market. The Church selected the City’s bid amongst the four offers, and the property was officially acquired by the City in August of 2017. As to why the City wanted to be involved in this area, the success north of I-694 in the New Brighton Exchange is a recent example of how proactive efforts by the City to acquire, clean up, and revitalize an area can result in a major transformation that benefits all taxpayers in the community. To date, the overall land value within the Exchange has increased over 300% since the project began ($27M to $108.5M) which will result in nearly $2M going to the tax rolls in future years benefiting the City, State, and local school district. The City believes that participating in the residential redevelopment of the land surrounding the old New Brighton Elementary will result in a similar success.
Given its proximity to existing residential uses, the land being developed has largely been viewed over the years as a logical place to address Community housing needs. In 2017, the annual Citizens Survey ranked housing as the second most critical issue to residents (second only to safe drinking water), and feedback gathered over the past year and a half for the Comprehensive Plan further established housing as a main goal for the City. Two community workshops, a series of on-line surveys, various pop-up events throughout the City, and multiple Commission and Council meetings resulted in the final draft of the new Comprehensive Plan that is currently headed to the Metropolitan Council for final approval. The new plan, which will guide the Community’s development for the next ten years, calls for a diverse and well-maintained housing stock to support people of all socio-economic, age, ethnic, race, and religious backgrounds. To this end, the “Old Highway 8 Interchange” (the name given to the redevelopment area around the school and south to 5th Street) was identified by the Community as one of three areas in the City appropriate for a “Mixed Use Neighborhood.” This new land use classification is meant to accommodate medium to high density housing ranging from 8 to 40 units per acre with stacked housing and townhomes predominantly being used. The shape, form, and character of the new housing is intended to transition into the surrounding neighborhoods, so please know that will be an area of focus with the developers and neighbors once a formal application comes forward.
While the new comprehensive plan is the primary reason that a mix of townhomes and multi-family housing is being proposed, a second (but equally important) factor driving these land uses is the economics of redevelopment in the metro. Land this close to Minneapolis and St. Paul, especially within a quality City like New Brighton, is expensive. The parcels within the Old Highway 8 Interchange slated to be used for this project have a total market value of approximately $4.1M according to Ramsey County. Development of single family homes is economically unfeasible as demonstrated by the response to RFPs received by the City at the beginning of this process. Of the nine development proposals received by the City, only one developer proposed all single family homes, and that was only an option for them if the land was free and the City was able to provide additional avenues of financial assistance.
Past uses on the site(s) including the school and community center have always generated traffic to/from this area, and any future use will do so as well (a church that also placed a bid on the land was considering hosting festivals for its 3000 members!). Regarding the site design, placing Senior Housing to the north of Highway 8 will reduce trips to and from this area as opposed to other housing options. Data shows that seniors typically generate less trips per day when compared to other age groups.
Currently Old Highway 8 carries 10,000 vehicles per day, and half of those use 8th Avenue for access to local neighborhoods and/or the freeway. In 2019-2023 MnDOT will initiate the I-35W MNPASS project that will add a new lane in each direction to I-35W from County Road C in Roseville to Sunset Avenue in Lino Lakes. During construction it is anticipated that drivers will use local roadways to avoid freeway delays. To address construction traffic looking for alternate routes, MnDOT has worked with the City to construct temporary traffic mitigation strategies. Temporary improvements will include a traffic signal at 7th St and 8th Avenue, dual left turn lanes from 8th Avenue to 10th Street, and restricted left turns from 8th Avenue to Old Highway 8. The City will use MnDOT traffic data, combined with anticipated development traffic to seek permanent improvements in the corridor. Solutions being considered to address both current and future traffic levels include:
- Having a controlled intersection at Old Hwy 8 & 8th Avenue, in conjunction with the existing controlled intersection at 10th Street, will allow traffic engineers to ensure there are gaps in traffic along 8th Avenue to allow for easier and safer ingress/egress.
- Further improvements to 8th Avenue could include curb bump outs at intersections (to slow traffic and reduce crossing distances), raised intersections (which force vehicles to slow down upon approach), or possibly mini roundabouts (to both slow traffic and minimize crossing distances). Such changes will directly address the safety and access concerns of the neighborhood.
The City will send out email updates as the status of the development changes (i.e. when a complete application is received, once official meeting dates for review have been set, notice of decisions by the Planning Commission or Council, etc.), or as needed to respond to frequently asked questions. These emails will be event triggered, so please don’t expect a weekly or daily update.
It did not. As covered at the January 22nd City Council meeting, the City recently completed a two-year comprehensive planning effort thorough which the community identified housing (both availability and affordability) as a primary issue of concern. Because New Brighton is fully developed, issues like housing can only be addressed via the redevelopment of underutilized parcels.
Drafting of the new Comp Plan included an extensive outreach effort. New Brighton’s City Council and Economic Development Commission (EDC) discussed either the Comprehensive Plan as a whole or specifically the New Brighton Elementary redevelopment at 29 different public meetings, and published 10 articles in the City’s newsletters and local newspaper among other efforts to inform the public.
No. The Metropolitan Council only establishes broad goals for the metropolitan area. Every ten years, those broad goals are encapsulated in a regional planning document. State statute requires Cities to adopt a comprehensive plan that is consistent with the regional planning document, but Cities retain full authority to determine how to develop within their respective communities.
Land this close to both Minneapolis and St. Paul is expensive. The parcels making up this development site have a combined value of approximately $3.8M according to Ramsey County, and developers must take this cost into account when putting proposals together.
The City solicited development proposals at the beginning of this process, and only two developers suggested low-density options (single family home options). Both projects would have only worked financially if the City provided the land for free, and the City was able to provide additional avenues of financial assistance; meaning the City would have taken a loss of more than $2.5 million.
Council and the EDC selected Dominium and Pulte as the preferred developers based on input provided during the comprehensive planning process, EDC priority rankings, City Council goals, and the reputation of both companies. Dominium has a proven track-record of building high-quality, attractive, affordable units; and the company has the capital necessary to ensure the project gets built.
The City is not building Section 8 housing. In fact, no new Section 8 buildings have been built since 1986 when the law authorizing construction of Section 8 housing was repealed. Modern construction of affordable housing is supported by a tax-incentive program that is different than Section 8.
In recognition of problems with Section 8, congress took action in 1986 to repeal the construction portion of Section 8, and replaced it with new language in “Section 42” of the Internal Revenue Tax Code.
Section 42 established a mechanism for issuing Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and is strictly used to finance the construction (not the operation) of rental properties. The LIHTC for this property will allow units to be available for families earning 60% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI).
Dominium rental properties are usually of very high quality and are often mistaken for luxury apartment communities. Local examples within a short drive:
The Legends at Silver Lake Village…….. 2500 38th Ave NE, St Anthony, MN 55421
River North Senior Apartments……….. 10940 Crooked Lake Blvd NW, Coon Rapids, MN 55433
Grand Central Flats……………………….. 4729 Grand Avenue NE, Columbia Heights, MN 55421
Please click here for more information on these properties.
Below are example rental rates that will likely be charged at the new Dominium affordable apartments compared to both existing average rental rates and the newest market rate rentals within the City.
|RENTS FOR ANTICIPATED DOMINIUM UNITS||CURRENT AVERAGE RENT
IN NEW BRIGHTON
|NEWEST MARKET RATE AVERAGE RENTS|
No. The anticipated development would include owner occupied townhomes, affordable senior housing (for ages 50+), and affordable family units through a minimum investment of nearly $98M on site improvements. Development of this value doesn’t inherently bring crime into a neighborhood; redevelopment of this value does quite the opposite.
Before the City will consider an application complete for review, the developers will need to supply the City with (among other things) a traffic study that analyzes pre-development traffic and post-development traffic to clearly identify development impacts and needed mitigation measures.
City staff and the developers will work directly with property owners to the north of the development to identify the best possible solutions to traffic and right-of-way in this area. Importantly, the City has no interest in any designs that would impact existing structures, and we would prefer to see a final solution that would benefit the adjacent properties by cleaning up the 1930’s era cul-de-sac bulb, which has never been used. There are several possibly outcomes that include but are not limited to leaving the current street configuration as it is, or terminating the street at its southern-most point and creating a cul-de-sac on the development property itself.
The timeline for a land-use project like this one is 30 to 120 days following receipt of a complete application. General steps are as follows:
- Developer submits an application, and city reviews it for completeness. Official review only begins once all required information is submitted.
- Once deemed complete, the application is routed for comments and a public hearing is scheduled; notices are sent to neighboring properties with 600 feet of the development, and a public hearing notice is published in the newspaper.
- Planning Commission holds a public hearing and passes recommendations to the City Council.
- City Council reviews and takes action on the application.
It is looking like the Planning Commission will be holding the public hearing on April 16th. It is then anticipated that Council will hold a public hearing on the creation of the TIF district needed for this development on April 23, 2019.
No. The current City Council views eminent domain as a last-resort option for accommodating public projects, and City Staff does not see any reason why it would even be discussed in the context of this development. All properties acquired to date were negotiated with willing sellers.
No. The temporary stop lights being erected on Old Highway 8, 10th Street, and Long Lake Road are being erected by MnDOT in anticipation of local traffic increases that will be caused by the I-35W reconstruction project set to begin in March of 2019. These temporary stop lights will be removed when the I-35W reconstruction project is complete.
Please visit the City’s website (www.newbrightonmn.gov) for more information. Under the “News” tab at the top of the website, you will find a direct link to information on the “New Brighton Elementary School Redevelopment.” We will be updating this page periodically as more information becomes available.