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UPDATED: Lyndale Gardens Financing, Tenants Remain Unclear

The Cornerstone Group is still committed to affordable housing.

*A natural foods grocery store and the possibility of a Fratallone's Ace Hardware store and restaurant were among the prospective tenants discussed for the Lyndale Garden Center site Tuesday night.

*While Council Member Fred Wroge asserted he knew the hardware store chain was committing to the project, Colleen Carey, president of The Cornerstone Group development firm, was unable to confirm the rumor. Carey told Patch and audience members any prospective tenants were working with the firm under a confidentiality agreement and names of tenants will not be released until after a lease had been signed.

Few other details emerged Tuesday night at a special work session conducted jointly by Richfield's City Council, Planning Commission and Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

The Cornerstone Group presented detailed site plans for Lyndale Garden Center, a proposed redevelopment project encompassing three separate properties adjacent to the northwest corner of 64th Street and Lyndale Avenue. The development's signature building incorporates parts of the former Lyndale Garden Center into a refurbished structure that will include both retail and community gathering spaces.

Developers did detail one setback: Financial constraints will likely keep Minnesota Life College from leasing space in the new development. The college is a Richfield-based nonprofit vocational and life skills training program for adults with learning differences.

The news alarmed some in attendance, prompting City Council Member Fred Wroge to ask about Lyndale Garden’s financing going forward.

“Are we talking one hundred percent affordable (housing), so you get tax credits?” he asked.

New housing developments composed entirely of affordable housing have become a sore point of late in Richfield, as seen in the widespread dissatisfaction among city residents regarding the proposed  development.

Despite the concerns, Colleen Carey, Cornerstone’s president, said she was still committed to building additional mixed-income housing at Lyndale Gardens.

“At the moment, I’m not proposing we change that,” she said, adding her belief that a mixed-income development would be better for everyone involved.

The company has successfully acquired all three properties and will be preparing to submit final development plans to the city in the coming months. Financing for portions of the project—including possible funding from the Met Council, along with certain Hennepin County programs—remains unclear.

Residents interested in more details from the developer can read The Cornerstone Group's blog.

Editor's Note: Details were added to this story for clarification and are marked with an asterisk (*).

Kevin O'Donovan March 05, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Gretchen, My next questions are how much Federal Grant Money and Federal Tax Credits are behind this project, if low income housing is included? How much will it get without low income housing? Isn't part of the idea to give these tax credits to the investors? Isn't this a large part of the investment,and also of the profit, along with a continuing revenue stream for a number of years from the Federal Government? I don't think anyone like Mother Theresa is behind this project. I smell squirrels and that means ACORNs are involved. Am I right? Maybe under an alias?
Richfield Commoners United March 05, 2012 at 05:44 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
Richfield Commoners United March 05, 2012 at 05:46 PM
So as you see either the Mayor knows or was not told?
Richfield Commoners United March 08, 2012 at 04:35 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 10, 2012 at 03:14 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.

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