The 2017 building season is in full swing, with the recently completed spring Parade of Homes luring many potential buyers out to St. Michael’s new housing developments. A handful of development projects are in full swing and there are more on the horizon, and city leaders say this year is shaping up to be the busiest residential construction year they have seen since before the 2008 recession.
St. Michael city administrator, Steve Bot, said the city has had 13 residential building permits through the end of February. The city issued six permits over the same period last year. St. Michael had 74 residential building permits during 2016 and 35 the year before that, but this year they are anticipating 100 to 125.
Most of St. Michael’s residential construction is happening in three main developments: Morgendal off County Rd. 35, Tributary on Foster Lake off County Rd. 36 and Waters Edge off Highway 241 and Melby Ave.
Tributary on Foster Lake
Eileen Seydow, new home consultant for Robert Thomas Homes, said they have sold 22 of the development’s first phase of 70 lots. Work on the second phase will begin in 2018, which will include another 70 lots. This development, which is in the Elk River school district, is heavy in amenities, including a playground, gazebo, community swimming pool, picnic tables and a canoe launch. Seydow said that many phase two lots will back directly up to Foster Lake, which she said is open for non-motorized watercraft and is a good fishing lake.
This neighborhood has two collections of homes with different price points. There are 13 home plan options starting at $384,900.
This Lennar development has sold six lots since the beginning of March. The neighborhood will have 80 lots total, but 40 are available now as phase 1. Consultant Connie Kohrt said the second phase will likely be available in two or three years. There are 11 home plans to choose from which range in price from $330,000 to $418,000.
This development is in the STMA school district. It backs up to the Crow River and has a nature area with picnic tables and a kayak station.
The Morgandal development is in its second phase, and DR Horton sales associates say they are pleased to have sold 10 homes in the development during the spring Parade of Homes. This development includes a park, walking trails and wildlife, with a bald eagle’s nest nearby with baby eagles inside.
Gonyea Company/Gonz Lake Property
Justin Bannwarth, land development manager at Gonyea Company, said that his company’s proposed development on the south end of town, Lakeshore Preserve, has been delayed but will still happen. Bannwarth said that grading work would begin either this fall or next spring, depending on how the company’s overall building schedule plays out.
“It’s still a go project,” Bannwarth said. “We’re still using that preliminary plat that we provided last year.”
Bannwarth said they will most likely partner with a few different builders for the development. This is a departure from other new development in St. Michael, which are all being completed by a single builder. He said they have not yet selected the partnering builders. The development will include about 130 single family homes.
Fields of St. Michael/Benzinger Homes
Jeff Benzinger of Benzinger Homes said he is nearly finished with a 27-lot project of single family villas targeted toward empty nesters in the Fields of St. Michael, which is south of town off 16th St. and County Rd. 19. Benzinger said some have basements and some do not, and they can be as large as 3,500 square feet, depending on what the buyer chooses. Benzinger said he began the project last year and now has just two lots left to sell in that development. The homes are association maintained.
“It has gone really, really well,” Benzinger said. “Better than I had projected.”
Benzinger said he has a similar development in progress in Rogers, along with single family developments in Rogers and Otsego.
Bot said a few other developments are in a concept phase right now, which he said does not guarantee that they will actually happen. He cited three areas where concepts are being explored: one concept plan they have actually seen by the STMA High School off Jamison Ave. and two in the Town Center area of St. Michael where they have heard of interest, one between MacIver Ave. and the Legacy of St. Michael off Frankfort Parkway, and the other on the plot of land adjacent to the Highlands development off Frankfort Parkway, near the Westbridge Church’s future church site.
“We’re not sure if they’ll move ahead this year, but at least there is more serious interest in those pieces that there hasn’t been in the past,” Bot said. “At this point these are still early concept.”
Housing Sizes Generally Increasing
With the exception of the Cornerstone Village apartment complex in downtown St. Michael, which will be complete this summer, and the one-level villas that Benzinger Homes and DR Horton are building on the southern end of town, Bot and Weigle said the market has been favoring single family homes that are mainly move-up housing.
“The single-family areas are challenged by the cost of land and construction improvements like grading, streets and utilities,” Bot said. “The cost to develop a lot is in the $70,000-$80,000 per lot range, so you can’t put up a $200,000 houses if the lot costs $80,000. Usually it’s about a 4 to 1 ratio, so if the lot is $80,000, your house is going to be $320,000 or higher.”
However, Bot said that DR Horton and Lennar are trying to accommodate as wide of a range of buyer as possible, and the city has approved layouts in those developments that are more modest in size.
“We’re definitely seeing some interest for people looking at move-up housing,” Weigle said. “They want to stay in the community, stay in the school district they’re in, things like that. It’s a good thing.”