Eagan council approves latest CDA housing plan

 

The Dakota County Community Development Agency plans to build a fifth townhome project in Eagan as part of its Family Townhome Project, which is aimed at providing affordable housing for moderate-income families with children under age 18. The program has 19 complexes, two of which are in Eagan. Another is set to open in the spring of 2013. (Photo submitted)

The Dakota County Community Development Agency plans to build a fifth townhome project in Eagan as part of its Family Townhome Project, which is aimed at providing affordable housing for moderate-income families with children under age 18. The program has 19 complexes, two of which are in Eagan. Another is set to open in the spring of 2013. (Photo submitted)

Plans to construct a fifth affordable housing development in Eagan has received the green light from Eagan city officials.

The Eagan City Council approved on May 7 a planning development, final plat and rezoning proposal that will allow the Dakota County Community Development Agency to build a 50-unit townhome development at 1319 Jurdy Road.

The 24.5-acre site is located south of Moonshine Park adjacent to Lemay Lake.

“We are very pleased to have your product in our city because it works,” Council Member Meg Tilley said.

The development is the latest expansion of the CDA’s Family Townhome Project, which is designed for moderate-income families with children under age 18.

Plans for the complex include three one-bedroom units, 22 two-bedroom units and 25 three-bedroom units, a gazebo and a tot lot. Six acres will be dedicated to expand Moonshine Park.

The CDA currently operates 19 rental townhome complexes under the program, which includes two developments in Eagan. A third is set to open in the summer of 2013 and a plan for a fourth development is moving forward.

“Eagan has a very high demand for housing and affordable housing is no exception,” said Kari Gill, deputy executive director for the CDA.

There are currently 1,300 families on a waiting list for the CDA townhomes in Eagan, she said.

Gill said the CDA chose the site near Lemay Lake due to its proximity to retail, parks and employers, Gill said.

Some residents, who admittedly had little knowledge about the proposal, expressed concerns that the project would bring increased traffic and crime while declining property values.

Public Works Director Russ Matthys assured residents and the council traffic will remain manageable on Jurdy Road and surrounding streets despite the development.

Eagan Police Chief Jim McDonald noted that drug and other issues in Moonshine Park are no worse than other Eagan parks.

“I haven’t seen any more concerning activity there than anywhere else in the city,” he said.

McDonald also noted that, since the CDA’s first workforce housing development opened in 1995, crime at its housing in Eagan has historically been the same or less than privately managed properties.

“Any time there has been issues with tenants, the CDA has been very responsive,” he said. “They are looking for a good experience for everyone living in the development.”

CDA Executive Director Mark Ulfers clarified the difference between the CDA’s Family Townhome Program and subsidized housing. Residents of the CDA’s townhomes pay below market rent but don’t receive governmental assistance to pay rent.

Residents must also meet income guidelines, provide good landlord and credit references and pass a criminal background check. For instance, a family of three must have a minimum income of approximately $37,000 to qualify for the program.

“This program serves working families,” Ulfers said. “Our residents include teaching aides, pharmacy techs, and retail and hotel service workers.”

These residents often struggle to afford market rate rent in Eagan, which is on average between $1,200 to $1,300 for a two-bedroom unit.

Ulfers noted the program is often used as a starting point toward homeownership.

He also pointed out that a recent study by Maxfield Research found no evidence affordable housing developments such as those in the CDA’s Family Townhome Program cause property values to fall.

Although the city didn’t require the CDA to hold a neighborhood meeting, Mayor Mike Maguire suggested the CDA consider holding one for future projects to address residents’ misconceptions.

Several residents claimed little notice was given for the project, but Maguire noted that information on it has been published in several media, including Sun Thisweek.

Construction on the Lemay Lake project could begin next summer. Upon completion, the property will be largely owned by a private entity but will be managed by the CDA.

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