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Richfield City Officials See Huge Community Turn-Out at Pillsbury Commons Presentation

The controversial project fills the council chambers at Richfield City Hall and Municipal Center Tuesday night.

Dozens of community members joined the Richfield City Council, Richfield Planning Commission and Richfield Housing and Redevelopment Authority Tuesday night to hear revised development plans for the .

The roughly $12.6 million development would see a multi-unit housing development built at the corner of 77th Street and Pillsbury Avenue. However, , with residents worrying about a possible decline in property values and rise in crime, and council members skeptical on the design of the property.

While city officials didn’t express any opposition for the development itself, the largest concerned seemed to be how prospective tenants would be considered for residency. Community members were not allowed to speak during the session.

Ron Clark Construction & Design representatives detailed that each applicant’s credit score, rental history and criminal record would be screened prior to moving in. However, more than wondering about the “history” of those who would be moving in, was adamant about making sure the development would serve those in Richfield first.

“My concern is that the people in Richfield qualify for this property,” he said.  “I want to know if Richfield residents would get priority.”

“If you’re going to sell it as Richfield lifecycle housing and that doesn’t happen, shame on you,” he added as the large crowd responded with muffled claps.

Changes to the Design Plan

After gathering feedback from city staff and a Nov. 29, 2011 neighborhood meeting, developers made several changes to the design of the property including changing the parking lot access from Pillsbury Avenue to 76th Street, expanding the playground area and eliminating apartment entry from the street.

The building will also be designed with different elevations to fit better with the neighborhood: the portion of the building facing Pillsbury Avenue will be two stories, while the portion facing 77th Street will be four stories and hopefully act as a buffer to traffic noise.

Moving Forward

The next step for developers will be to submit applications requesting tax increment financing and rezoning the property from industrial to high-density housing. At that time a formal development plan will also be submitted.

According to , director, the financing request will be reviewed by the housing authority, while the zoning portion will be looked at by the planning commission. The applications are due to the city at the end of January.

Stay tuned as Richfield Patch continues to gather information and viewpoints on this project.

Caitlin Burgess (Editor) January 25, 2012 at 10:18 PM
As someone who frequents city council meetings, I was shocked at the turn-out last night. It was really cool to see the community so engaged in something happening around town.
Barry L. January 25, 2012 at 10:36 PM
The question that were asked at the city hall open forum were interesting as the Property is being sold for less than market value, WHY? So lets say they divided into just plan city lots that sell now for $60 each, 22 lots, more or so, the city would get roughly 1.3 million dollars? So where is the common sense to this madness?
Wayne Olson January 26, 2012 at 07:01 PM
We, the City of Richfield, already have a large number of apartments, some for low income, as well as quite a number of retirement buildings with apartments, condos and/or townhomes. We are becoming a "multiple housing" bedroom community. This city has always had a great reputation for good housing (single family) which move well on the market. I think we need to sell the property to single-family-dwelling developers, not multiple housing, as proposed.
Roger Kint January 27, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Wayne, my brother works in land development and I've talked about this project with him suggesting the same thing. He told me the one thing that will never go there is single family housing. He estimated that between land and clean up cost, a developer would be out maybe 2 mil or more before any construction. He figured thats about 300k per lot with no house on it. To me it sounds like the only things that would ever go there are industrial like what's there now or multi-family.
Barry L. January 27, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Hi Roger, If you look at what Ron Clark is asking to clean up the site and on his proposed MNFH RFP, He is asking only $250 thousand to clean the property up. He further states in the RFP that each unit will cost $179 thousand each to build at a $12 Million price tag. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.285430314827062.60291.284085418294885&type=3 I could be wrong but I think some where the numbers dont add up.
Jackson January 27, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Look at the Section 42 property on 88th and Portland in Bloomington. That was built a couple years ago, has a very high Somali population, and one of the Somali tenants stabbed a couple people at the Library next door. Ron Clark's proposal will be the exact same type of project. All tenants will be on Section 8 vouchers and free school lunch programs, Demand a portion of the building be Market Rate so the owner has an incentive to mainatain the property to a point where tenants will choose to live there. Otherwise, we'll get another rundown property that costs the taxpayers way more than the benefit. Especially if the City gives the project TIF.
Brie Shultz January 28, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Barry, did you find out why the city wants to sell the land for less than its value?
Barry L. January 29, 2012 at 01:33 AM
No, we have received word from John Stark is gathering the information, you might want to call him and ask why ? 612.861.9760, he is the city planner
Robert January 30, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Smoke and mirrors. Credit scores and Job records will be screened. Fine. But isn't it Illegal to turn someone down for housing due to those factors? This project will only bring down property values.
Barry L. February 03, 2012 at 07:37 AM
We still have not received an answer of why the property value is being sold under market rate. Please call John Stark, 612.861.9760 ask him why we cant get a answer...
Barry L. March 10, 2012 at 03:16 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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