Korean church developers host open house in New Brighton


Solomon Gustavo New Brighton residents met for an open house hosted by developers interested in building more than 300 housing units at the defunct Korean United Methodist Church site in the 700 block of Eighth Avenue NW. Though it was not a meeting hosted by the city, New Brighton Mayor Val Johnson was there and answered questions.

At Hanson Park on Oct. 25, housing developers Dominum and Pulte invited neighbors of the city-owned former Korean United Methodist Church site for an open house to talk about potential development.

The site, which the city bought for $1.9 million, is located in the 700 block of Eighth Avenue NW. The developers wanted feedback on a hybrid housing project that would bring over 300 affordable senior and family housing units, along with townhomes. 

Since a city staff team-building retreat in January, New Brighton has been in contact with developers interested in the redevelopment of the church site. 

The New Brighton Economic Development Commission in May narrowed its preferences for development, approving discussions with developers that can specifically deliver a hybrid project of both owner-occupied townhomes and affordable rentals.

Dominum builds affordable housing, and Pulte builds townhomes. City staff asked the two to blend their proposals. Both companies agreed, formed a proposal, and presented it to New Brighton residents at the Hansen Park meeting. No formal proposals have been submitted to the city.

 

Density issues

The Dominum/Pulte open house was not a city meeting, but New Brighton officials like Mayor Val Johnson and council member Graeme Allen were there. The open house was informal with no presentation, just residents, city officials and developers talking. 

"I'm not happy about the 300 units," said resident Debbie Perkins, saying the high-volume influx of people would make her neighborhood feel less quaint. She said she'd support a more modest project, something like 20 single-family homes. 

That many new neighbors, said resident Karoline Nauss, would mean a lot more traffic, and a lot more danger on the sidewalk. 

“It's already extremely problematic and not being addressed by the city as it is,” she said, adding many people in the neighborhood are parents with young children. "With such a big influx of people all being routed down Eighth Avenue to go to townhouses and senior housing, I'm very concerned." 

Nauss said she understands the need for housing but doesn't want to see a project in her neighborhood without "very mindful" planning that considers things like how welcome everyone will feel to ostensibly shared green space on a new housing development. 

Some of the 25 or so people at the meeting said they felt they were under-informed about potential Korean church site projects in general, and that there wasn't proper notice for the open house. 

"Hello, everyone! Hello!" said Johnson, bringing the chatter to a halt with a short clarifying speech followed by answers to questions.

"This is not necessarily a done deal," said Johnson. "Something is going to be built on there, and it's more than likely going to be residential housing, apartments, something."

Johnson said there is much more work to be done, including traffic studies and getting more community feedback.

 

–Solomon Gustavo can be reached at sgustavo@lillienews.com or 651-748-7815.

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