Brooklyn Park gets $56K for housing study

This aerial image shows the development project area where the city will conduct a market study using Met Council grant funds.
This aerial image shows the development project area where the city will conduct a market study using Met Council grant funds. Click to enlarge.

Brooklyn Park hopes a $56,250 grant awarded by the Metropolitan (Met) Council will help the city find sustainable multifamily housing developments for two city-owned lots in the Village Creek area.

For several years the city has been working to encourage redevelopment in the area near the intersection of Brooklyn Boulevard and Zane Avenue. A few of the new developments included Brunswick Zone (2005), the Village Creek Townhomes (2005-2009), the Shops at Village Creek (2010) and the Village Creek police station (2010).

Recently the Met Council awarded the city a Livable Communities Grant to help fund a study of what type of housing development would be most suitable for two lots on Welcome Avenue.

The study will also look at the feasibility of adding other features to make potential developments more sustainable environmentally, as well as economically.

Both lots in question belong to the Brooklyn Park Economic Development Authority (EDA), a governing body that comprises the same members as the city council. One lot is on the corner of Welcome Avenue and Brooklyn Boulevard, next to Brunswick Zone. The other sits across Welcome Avenue next to the Shops at Village Creek and the Hennepin County Medical Center clinic.

According to Kim Berggren, development project manager for Brooklyn Park, in 2005 both sites were slated for condominiums.

“Clearly that timing didn’t work out,” she said, referring to the recession and housing market collapse of 2008.

It’s no longer clear whether the market would support condos, and that’s why the city wants to hire a firm to conduct a market study.

“We’re just looking at what would be a viable use of those sites,” Berggren said. “And it was always planned that there would be some multifamily housing on those spots.”

The analysis won’t stop after the market study. Grant funds will also help fund “the feasibility of incorporating sustainable features into the development.” Those features could include sustainable building materials, geothermal or solar technology, storm water management systems, food source opportunities and bicycle infrastructure.

“We want to look at these sites with fresh eyes in terms of how to make developments on the site sustainable both economically and environmentally in the long term and make it a really livable development,” Berggren said.

Finally, the grant will help pay for the preparation of a site plan and design concepts to “show how housing can be integrated into the existing development and connected to the pedestrian system,” according to the grant application.

The city expects the final product to differ from other housing available nearby.

“The goal is to really have a lot of housing choices for people,” Berggren said.

According to Berggren, the grant will pay for about 80 percent of the study costs. The city will cover the rest, approximately $14,000.

The Met Council has been giving these grants since 1995, and Brooklyn Park has received money from the council for other projects in the Village Creek area. The Met Council has awarded cities a total of about $252 million in Livable Communities Grants.

“It’s really exciting to be able to help communities rebuild and redevelop, create more housing and generate jobs in the process,” Met Council Chair Susan Haigh said in a statement. “Year after year, these grants help to transform communities, integrate people and places, ensure the region remains competitive and dynamic, and maintain the quality of life that continues to attract employers.”

Berggren said Brooklyn Park is grateful for the council’s help.

“The Met Council has played a really important role in making the redevelopment of the Village Creek area move forward,” Berggren said. “…The Village Creek area has been kind of an ongoing thing that the city’s been committed to. We’ve seen a lot of change in that area and a lot of great development.”

The city expects predevelopment planning and preparations to occur in 2013-2014. It hopes for construction and opening of the developments in 2014-2015.