Large senior housing facility to fill lumberyard vacancy
A gaping vacancy in downtown Forest Lake will soon be filled, assuming no hiccups surface before shovels hit dirt this fall.
United Properties, a Minneapolis-based commercial real estate firm, plans to build a three-story senior housing facility at the former Stock Building Supply site at 231 W. Broadway Ave.
The privately owned company has a purchase agreement in place for the 3.25-acre parcel that has sat empty since Stock closed its Forest Lake location in 2007, ending a 108-year run of continuous operation.
Pending various city approvals, a significant investment would result in a 92-unit campus called Cherrywood Pointe. It would create approximately 70 jobs, according to Kristi Olson, vice president of development with United Properties. She declined to release the preliminary estimate on the company’s financial investment here, but called it significant.
“We are really excited about Forest Lake,” she said. “It’s a community I think people are proud to be from, and there are a lot of people that have lived here a long time and don’t want to have to go somewhere else. We hope to be part of the community.”
Forest Lake would be home to the second Cherrywood Pointe community. United Properties opened its maiden one in Roseville last September. Olson said the firm hopes to add more in the near future. A second group of United Properties senior communities, Applewood Pointe, boasts six sites with two more on the way. Whereas Applewood Pointe communities feature units for sale under a joint ownership model, residents at Cherrywood Pointe rent independent living, assisted living or memory care units.
First-floor memory care units will be about 500-600 square feet and feature walk-out access to gardens, Olson said. Independent living and assisted living units on the upper floors will range from 700-1,500 square feet. As in Roseville, the facility would be managed by Ebenezer, a division of Fairview Health Services.
“It’s always our goal to offer the best product and best spaces and best care for the most reasonable price,” said Olson, who declined to give specific rental rates before the project is officially green-lighted. “That’s kind of been the secret all the way along and what makes them work, because it’s just a good value.”
Olson expects the finished product to feature amenities similar to the community in Roseville, such as a fitness center, a spa, a beauty and barber shop, a bistro, crafts rooms, billiards rooms, underground parking, bus transit and a front-desk concierge.
The building will feature a modern design and incorporate elements of the streetscaping that went along with the recent Broadway Avenue reconstruction. The design may also play off the facility’s proximity to the lake.
The Roseville facility has a strong residential design. The one here, at the city’s request, may incorporate more urban themes to better match its downtown surroundings, Olson said. The building’s main entrance would be off NW Third Street, on the west side of the property.
Large gardens and several outdoor walking paths are also in the design plans, which Olson said will be presented to city officials next week.
“We are going to try to really integrate for the seniors in the community the cultural and historical aspects of Forest Lake and really make it feel like this is their place to be,” she said.
Olson joined United Properties just this year, but is a veteran in the industry. She has developed 29 assisted living facilities throughout the Twin Cities and had Forest Lake specifically in mind for her next venture.
“I knew I wanted to go to Forest Lake,” she said. “I looked at everything up there and knew there was a great market and need. It’s just exciting that we can bring this new project to the community.”
The project next must clear a few hurdles at the city level. Initial design documents will be submitted to the planning commission and City Council next week. It is the first step in the Planned Unit Development approval process, which promotes large-scale, unified land usage.
City staff will be lending a hearty recommendation.
“Personally, I think it’s probably the best possible reuse of that property,” said Community Development Director Doug Borglund.
“It’s a good project, a great redevelopment and it’s going to bring demographics to the downtown area,” he added.
The property, zoned for mixed usage, allows for buildings up to four stories; the three-story Cherrywood Pointe project would be similar in height to the nearby Park Place building, Borglund said.
City officials have expressed a desire for a residential project such as this to eventually spring up in place of the current city hall when municipal operations are moved to the campus in the works further south on Lake Street. Borglund, however, said he would not expect this building project to hinder any others.
The implications of such projects are planned out well in advance, he said, noting a housing market study the city updated in 2011.
“There is market capacity and there is a need [for senior housing],” Borglund said.