ISD 623 property to become senior housing

The vacant site of the former Lake Owasso Elementary School at the intersection of Victoria Street and Woodhill Drive in Roseville could soon be called home by more than 100 seniors.

At the end of November, the Roseville School Board accepted a letter of intent to purchase the property at 950 Woodhill Drive for $2.4 million from United Properties, a Minneapolis-based developer that hopes to use the space for a 130-unit apartment complex for seniors.

Lake Owasso Elementary School was built in 1951, one of the district’s “first rounds of elementaries,” according to Superintendent Dr. John Thein.

Following a decline in student enrollment, the school closed in 1978 and became the site of the local cable commission operation, until 2011 when CTV relocated. The building was razed over the winter of 2012-13, and now, all that’s left is an asphalt parking lot.

“You couldn’t use [the building] as a school anymore. It would have been less expensive to build a brand new school [than to renovate it],” Thein said.

In 2009, a district advisory committee recommended to the school board that if the building were to sit empty, the district should sell the property in order to invest the money in other areas. Following that advice, the district began looking for prospective buyers last year.

It received two offers: $2.4 million from United Properties for 130 units of senior housing and $900,000 from Pulte Homes to construct 50 townhomes. At its Nov. 25 meeting, the school board unanimously accepted United Properties’ letter of intent, giving it the green light to draft a purchase agreement.

The board has given Thein authorization to sign the agreement, which could be ready to be entered into as early as the end of the week, according to Stantec consultant John Shardlow, who is representing the district through negotiations.

Preserving ball fields

The 10.25-acre property is made up of two parcels, one of which currently is the site of the Owasso Ballfields, two baseball diamonds operated by the city of Roseville.

“Over 20 years ago, the school district leased the land to the city for $1 a year for 15 years. Of course, they’ve been there long past that,” Thein explained.

Per the school board’s request, United Properties will work with the city to preserve the fields so kids—many of whom are ISD 623 students—can continue to play there.

In the letter of intent, United Properties says it plans to sell the 4.39-acre ballfield parcel to the city for about the same amount of money as the park dedication fees for the senior housing development, as well as the projected park dedication fees from an assisted living facility it’s planning at Woodhill Drive and Lexington Avenue, though plans for neither project have officially been submitted to the city.

According to the city website, the fields currently have parking for 65, but Shardlow says the city will likely work with the developer to expand that number.

‘Win-win-win’

United Properties has constructed three other senior housing developments in Roseville: two near Langton Lake—Applewood Pointe and Cherrywood Pointe Assisted Living—and another Applewood Pointe complex near County Road C2.

Shardlow says the developer has two ideas in mind for what it bills as “an affordable senior apartment building.” One plan involves the creation of a tax-increment financing district to fund rentals, and a “backup” plan if the TIF district isn’t approved to make the development a senior cooperative, in which residents typically collectively own and govern the complex.

“They think they have a strong market [for a co-op],” Shardlow said at the Nov. 25 school board meeting, emphasizing that the developer is optimistic that the city will establish a TIF district.

“Going forward with the purchase agreement, I think that it’s a very solid offer and I’m optimistic that they will be a good purchaser for the property,” Shardlow added.

“We’re looking for a win-win-win for everybody,” Thein said. “The ballparks will stay there, we’ll get a good return on that investment.”

Thein said the district would use the money to invest in existing school needs like recreational space, classroom remodeling or the district’s 1:1 iPad initiative.

Overall, the superintendent is hopeful the developer and the city will be able to work together to find a plan that benefits both parties.

“We’re all in this together, and we have a great history of working with city of Roseville. We love ‘em, we like ‘em, they’re great partners,” he said.

Johanna Holub can be reached at jholub@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. Follow her on Twitter @jholubnews.

 

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