Mendota Heights OKs purchase agreement with senior housing developer


The Mendota Heights City Council on Aug. 20 approved a purchase agreement with a developer that plans to build senior housing and a restaurant on the city-owned land near the Village at Mendota Heights off Maple Street and Dodd Road. (courtesy of City of Mendota Heights)

The Mendota Heights City Council on Aug. 20 voted to approve a purchase agreement with a developer to buy the city-owned Village Lots off Maple Street and Dodd Road.

Grand Real Estate Advisors is looking to buy the lots for $1.1 million and build senior housing, a restaurant and office space on the 2.76-acre site near the Village at Mendota Heights.

City Administrator Mark McNeill said the proposed project is a three-story, 42-unit apartment building for residents 55 and up, a 4,000-square-foot restaurant and a 2,000-square-foot co-working space, along with parking, green space, trail connection and landscaping. 

“They are looking to close by March 31 of 2020. This would give them the time to get the necessary approvals, which would be for the normal things we look for from developers,” McNeill said.

He added that if the restaurant plans to serve alcohol, there’s a city code issue that the council would have to deal with because of the proposed development’s proximity to a church. According to city code, no liquor license should be granted to a location within 725 feet of any church.

Judd Fenlon, who is with Grand Real Estate Advisors, said his company is aware that city code would need to be amended for the restaurant to get a liquor license.

The church distance requirement is a part of city code, McNeill said, and working around it would require a change to the code, not just a variance for the particular restaurant at the development.

Council members appeared open to updating the city code on liquor licenses.

Council member Liz Petschel said St. Paul had run into similar issues with liquor licenses in its downtown because of how many schools are in the area. She said St. Paul reworked it’s code to accommodate the eateries and that she wasn’t willing to walk away from a good purchase agreement over a code issue the council could take care of.

Council member Jay Miller said it would behoove the council to “be good neighbors” and invite the church into the conversation.

The council approved the purchase agreement with a 4-1 vote. Miller was the dissenter.

City staffers and Grand Real Estate Advisors are at work on a development agreement. The city will hold public hearings on the development as the planning process continues as needed.

 

–Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

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