Land from the Dehmer and Lenneman farms on the west end of town are moving closer toward what would become St. Michael’s largest residential development project in its 130-year history.
Capstone Homes and the City of St. Michael have made progress on moving the development through the required approval processes, which require additional steps due to its location on Uhl Lake. The city council approved Comprehensive Plan Amendments for the development and the Master Planned Unit Development (PUD) Concept plan for Legacy Bay Farms at their most recent meeting.
Community Development Director, Marc Weigle, said the city’s current comprehensive plan calls for commercial land south of CSAH 35 on both the east and west sides of Jamison Ave. NE. The developer requested that the land west of Jamison be amended to all residential, and for the 40 acres east of Jamison to be amended from 20 acres residential and 20 acres commercial to all 40 acres commercial.
Coming steps include approving the AUAR (Alternative Urban Areawide Review), which is an environmental review that the city believes will be complete in time for the planning commission’s March 4 meeting. They also plan to receive the preliminary plat in time for that March 4 meeting.
If all goes according to plan, developer Capstone Homes plans to begin grading the site starting in July, with the first addition’s utilities and streets in place before the frost in late 2020.
“We could see a model [home] in the first addition by fall of this year, yes,” said Steve Bot, St. Michael City Administrator. “They’ll do a lot of the work in phases, so it won’t all happen at once. But the first 55 homes or so could be online by 2021.”
Capstone representatives said Legacy Bay Farms will include 1,242 “attainable” homes of five different types, including detached townhomes, villas, small single-family, mid-range single-family and upper-level single family.
In addition to housing, the development will include several amenities the developers say is difficult to find with the more modest proposed housing price points of $250,000 and up. In addition to residential homes spread out into six different neighborhoods, the development also includes 48 acres of commercial development, 40 acres for athletic fields and parking, an 8-acre park to be named South Lake Park, and walking trails. The development will span 549 acres and should take 10-15 years to build out entirely.
“I think one of the highlights will be the detached style of townhome where you’re not sharing a wall, you’re just on that smaller lot. We’ve seen that floorplan in a few new developments over the past couple of years, and that’s been very popular,” Bot said. “Having that entry-level home will be important as we grow the community, as well. Starter homes are sort of in short supply here.”
The Legacy Bay Farms development will require extending Jamison Ave. about 1,500 feet from CSAH 35 to the proposed roundabout. Other necessary road improvements would come later, including improvements to Jaber, 17th St. and more work on Jamison. Weigle said the developer will pay for all road improvements in the first phase. However, he said the city anticipates the developer to petition to have the city reconstruct a portion of Jamison Ave. in the future and assess those costs to the properties.
Impact on Schools
St. Michael-Albertville school district’s Superintendent, Dr. Ann-Marie Foucault, said she keeps in close contact with the two towns’ city administrators and keeps a spreadsheet to track which housing developments are tied to which school so she can predict future student numbers at each building.
“I am very mindful of enrollment and building capacity and am very comfortable with our current capacity,” she said. She added that the growth pace set by the Legacy Bay developers would be within the school’s current plan.
Bot agreed, saying right now, STMA is seeing a slight decline in the pace of enrollment.
“We work with them very closely on something like this, and really the community needs this sort of development to come online right about now,” Bot said. “You can add this number of homes over 10 to 20 years and not be anywhere near the pace of growth we were seeing 20 years ago, even with the other developments we have going around town.”
Foucault said the school district will have another demographic study completed this summer, as the latest study only goes out to 2021.