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Colleen Carey: ‘100 Percent Affordable Housing Doesn’t Make Sense’

The Cornerstone Group’s president addresses the affordable housing component for the Lyndale Garden Center development project.

, The Cornerstone Group has recently caught some flack for “revealing” the housing portion of that building would’ve been 100 percent affordable.

“We have always said that we were going to have affordable housing in this project,” Carey said. “And as we went through talks with [] they felt the tax credit option would be the most beneficial for them. It was no secret. … There was no bait and switch here.”

Currently, , build two mixed-income housing complexes at the back of the lot, as well as move forward with the building that would’ve housed the college. In addition, the firm is in talks with the owners of the existing apartment complex at the back of the lot to either purchase the building outright or partner with owners.

Carey said she estimated about one-third of all housing planned for the project would be affordable, which the firm had hoped would be mainly met with the Minnesota Life College building.

With project moving forward, residents' concerns for another 100 percent affordable housing complex—when most believe the city is already affordable—seemed warranted. However, Carey reiterated that , 100 percent affordable was not on the table in terms of the whole project.

“The [Pillsbury Commons project] is quite different from our project,” she added. “From my perspective the [Pillsbury Commons] location doesn’t support market rate apartments; it doesn’t make financial sense. In my case, 100 percent affordable doesn’t make sense.”

Moving Forward

Carey said the firm is hoping to start the renovation of the actual Lyndale Garden Center building by the fall. However, if negotiations with the owners of the existing housing complex move quickly, renovations and plans for that portion could go first.

As far as continuing any work with Minnesota Life College, Carey said she wouldn’t completely count it out. Further, if a deal was reached with the other apartment owners, this could be another option for the college.

“[Minnesota Life College] may come back to us next month and say they can raise the necessary equity [to afford the new building],” she said. “Or they could say they want to work on making an existing building work, or they just may go somewhere else.”

Currently the only funding that has been secured is the acquisition funding that allowed The Cornerstone Group to purchase all land parcels. Once tenants have signed leases and design plans have been finalized, the developers will be able to apply for permanent financing that will allow construction to begin.

Richfield Patch will continue to update readers as new information becomes available on this project.

Joe Hoover March 06, 2012 at 10:38 PM
The issue is not just "Does Richfield have enough affordable housing?" but also are some areas saturated with to much low-income or affordable housing (low income and affordable housing are not the same). For example Bloomington does have low income housing and lots of it. Unfortunately it is all in East Bloomington. Which is not to surprising since most of the City Council lives in West Bloomington. Richfield has built up 66th and Lyndale as a seniors neighborhood unfortunately what that meant was a large community of people with fixed incomes and trying to downsize their living spaces. The resulting effect on the business community can be seen. The neighborhood could not support a Quiznos, a D. Brians, or even a Dunn Bros. which usually are a license to print money. However, it can support a dialysis treatment clinic and several other medical facilities. A Pizza Luce is moving in but with a TIF subsidy. Successful redevelopment incorporates market rate housing AND luxury housing of which Richfield has little to none especially in the area of 66th and Lyndale. Look at Grand and Excelesior area in St. Louis Park to see the results of successfully integrating market rate, luxury, senior and affordable housing. Richfield can do more to incorporate low income housing but it has to be very smart about it and really think about where it should go and not just because the land is cheap. That leads to segregated neighborhoods like East and West Bloomington.
Richfield Commoners United March 07, 2012 at 07:41 AM
here is the audio portion to that meeting: http://soundcloud.com/richfieldminnesota/lyndale-gardens-life-college
Richfield Commoners United March 08, 2012 at 04:36 AM
Here is one great letter in the News today Thank you!!! http://richfield.patch.com/articles/concerned-residents-continue-plea-for-city-to-reconsider-pillsbury-commons
Barry L. March 09, 2012 at 08:15 PM
"Mayor Debbie Goettel later said she has faith in Cornerstone and Carey, who held several meetings to gather public input about what should be included on the site. The mayor said Carey is not the only developer who has had issues with projects that have gotten caught in the financial crisis. "Things are not like they were five years ago," Goettel said. "She has a lot of ideas we like in this city. ... Colleen has been really transparent about funding. We know where she's at." Goettel called the project "vital." "I actually courted Cornerstone for it because I like [Carey]," she said. "She has got to do one thing at a time. It takes some time to pull things together."http://www.startribune.com/local/west/128533583.html?page=2&c=y
Barry L. March 10, 2012 at 03:13 AM
In dealing with Pillsbury Commons there seems to be confusion over the issue of just what "affordable housing" and low income housing are. The use of "low income housing " is not being derogatory. It is important to realize that all low income housing is affordable but not all affordable housing is low income. To prove the point, can a tenant be "affordable" or "low income"? Many of the apartments in Richfield are affordable - that is, they are affordable to people with low incomes but can be rented by people with high incomes. A low income housing development like Pillsbury Commons is housing that is set aside for people who meet low income guidelines. Richfield is very affordable and has quite a bit of affordable housing. Edina is not affordable has no affordable housing which is why it really needs affordable housing so people with low incomes can afford to live their.
Richfield Commoners United June 06, 2012 at 02:09 AM
http://richfield.patch.com/articles/poll-does-the-city-know-what-it-s-doing-with-housing?ncid=newsltuspatc00000001

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