St. Michael city leaders are getting the housing push they’ve been hoping for, as at least three planned developments bringing more than 250 new homes and two dozen townhomes to the community could be in front of planning commissioners throughout this summer.
“It will be up to the developers whether or not any or all of this starts in 2015, but it certainly looks like the housing market will be really going strong again the next couple of seasons here,” said community development director Marc Weigle. “I think we’ll see at least a couple of model homes in some of these by the end of the summer.”
D.R. Horton’s Cascades Development, located off of St. Michael Parkway to the south of St. Michael Elementary, is being seen as one of the catalysts to the city’s new success. Weigle said many of the 40-plus lots in St. Michael’s newest development (and first official PUD since the housing crash) will be spoken for by the end of the 2015, with homes going for more than $300,000 in the area.
Gonyea Developers, Tradition Homes and D.R. Horton have all submitted preliminary drawings to city staff, working with the planning department and administration on such things as engineering, environmental reviews and other required steps in the development process. Both Tradition and Gonyea were also required to conduct an additional environmental study via the State of Minnesota – an Alternative Urban Area Review (AUAR) – because of those developments’ proximity to waterways.
Gonyea – Becker Farm Development
Thought it’s not the official name for the development, the 130 lots being proposed on St. Michael’s southern border is being drawn up on acreage that was formerly the Clem Becker family farm, for those that know their St. Michael history.
Located off County 19 and 23rd Street Northeast, the development reaches westward to the edges of Gonz Lake, and would be located within the St. Michael-Albertville School District.
Weigle expects the development to be fully planned by the fall, with preliminary information at the June 3 meeting of the St. Michael Planning Commission.
There will be shoreline lots, but Gonz is more of a shallow swamp vs. active lake, so cattails and other pond weeds will separate yards from the actual water in the lake. The most activity one would see on Gonz is a canoe or kayak.
Gonyea has yet to name a builder for the development, but Weigle expects several lots to be the “bring your own” variety, where property purchasers can chose a contractor to construct a new house.
Fox Hollow Estates – Tradition Development
Perhaps the most well-known of the three new developments, Fox Hollow Estates is roaring ahead as the city extends services – including sanitary sewer lines and water mains – north and east along Wright County 36 out to the area as crews reconstruct Interstate 94.
Tradition will be its own builder,with more than 135 lots initially platted out for the development, which sits on the “across the road nine” at Fox Hollow. The golf course decided to shut down the nine holes – reducing its offering, eventually, back to 18 holes – last year.
“I think we’ll see this, too, at the June planning meeting, though we initially thought July. But they’re sounding like they’re ready to go,” Weigle said. “All of these will probably come in phases, so we don’t know which lots will be developed first, but I can see Phase 1 opening with some models in late 2015, for sure, and for the Parade of Homes next year.”
The development lies within the Elk River School District, due to boundaries drawn by both the STMA and Elk River districts years ago. STMA does support open enrollment, though the district doesn’t transport open enrolled students (most districts don’t). Weigle said he’d expect some families to chose to do that.
“If you look at the proximity to the elementary school choices – Otsego Elementary or Hassan, vs. Big Woods, for example, it’s pretty close in terms of drive time. So parents will have a decision there.”
The district, of course, would ultimately decide, too, which buildings can house open-enrolled students. If Big Woods were running near capacity, for example, that could change things for parents in the Fox Hollow development.
Transportation improvements will be made at Ogren Avenue and County 36, Weigle said, as part of this new development.
Fox Hollow Estates won’t have a city-funded park, with a large park planned on the north side of Foster Lake planned in the future. However, Tradition does have plans for a private park and pool, similar to those found in Highlands and Meadow Ponds.
D.R. Horton’s Return
With the success of Cascades Development clear, Horton is eying another 40-acre site for 73 new homes and 25 detached townhomes just off of County Road 35 near its intersection with 35th Street/34th Street, west of downtown St. Michael.
The development also includes a donation of land to the Minnesota DNR, which is trying to restore wetlands between Meadow Ponds and County 35.
“I think the lots will be a bit deeper than the Cascade lots, but they’ll stick with that 65 to 75-foot width, which is what people are buying right now. They don’t want a ton of yard to take care of,” Weigle said.
The development of 250-plus homes would be huge for St. Michael businesses and schools, Weigle said.
“When you have contractors in town and they’re staying busy, they’re going to use your stores, restaurants and other businesses while they’re here, so that’s a great thing for a lot of people,” Weigle said. “And businesses like to see growth in a community, so it could open other opportunities for us.”
Weigle said the city’s pleased with the price points in most of the housing coming on line, as is the public at large. He said, despite the construction of new homes, Realtors are still having a tough time keeping an inventory here in St. Michael and Albertville.
“People like the schools here, like the community. It’s a place they want to be,” he said.