Maple Grove and Lavaque, The Sequel, got much better reviews than the original.
After an earlier proposal attracted passionate opposition and was turned down on a 3-2 vote, the Hermantown City Council Monday night unanimously granted preliminary approval to a slimmed-down project at the corner that eliminates all but a senior living community from the plans.
What’s left, named “The Pillars,” would have 110 living units on three stories, said Joe Ryan, CEO and founder of Excelsior, Minnesota.-based Oppidan Investment Co., which would develop the property. It would be broken down into 65 independent living units, 25 assisted living units and 20 memory care units.
There’s still steps to take before Oppidan can proceed with its planned unit development. It will come back before the Hermantown Planning Commission on March 17. If it’s approved then, the City Council would have the final say on April 6.
Following the meeting, Ryan said he hopes to see construction begin in the summer and the project open to residents in September 2021.
The original plan, for a 137-unit development that would have been known as The Arbours of Maple Grove, drew opposing comments from about two dozen people at the council’s Jan. 21 meeting. In addition to a four-story senior living complex, it would have included 18 single-family homes and several fourplexes for people 55 and older.
Proponents said it would meet a need for housing in Hermantown; opponents argued the housing would be overly dense for the 10-acre site.
The developer involved in planning the fourplexes and the single-family homes then pulled out, said Eric Johnson, community development director for Hermantown. Oppidan revised its plans to provide more screening and trim the senior-living building from four stories to three.
It already has four such housing units known as The Pillars in the Twin Cities and is in the early stages of developing one near Grand Rapids, said Ryan, who is a Hibbing native.
Only 14 community members attended Monday’s meeting, and only two spoke regarding the development. Both had moved from “staunchly opposed” to “this is better.”
“It isn’t exactly what many of us would want, but we feel that we’re headed in a positive direction,” said Michael Koppy, who had been among the leaders of the opposition in January.
Connie Bloom, who lives within a mile of the proposed development, said she still would prefer that the building be two stories instead of three. But she called the revised plans an improvement.
“What they proposed before was much too dense, population-wise and traffic-wise,” she said after the meeting. “I’m happier, but not 100%. … I could live with this.”