Granite Shores apartments fill up, but commercial space poses challenges

by Joni Astrup

Associate editor

All 67 apartments at Granite Shores in downtown Elk River have been rented, but filling the main-floor commercial space has proven more difficult.

Jim Soderberg of Granite Shores said they are considering converting some, but not all, of the commercial space into eight apartments.

In an appearance Oct. 1 before the Elk River Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), Soderberg said a lack of nearby parking is hampering efforts to fill the commercial space.

“There really isn’t parking over there. That’s the issue we’re running up against,” he said.

One commercial space has been rented to a computer-aided design company. They are still talking with a coffee shop about locating in the first-floor turret area. A jewelry store and a fitness center are among the other businesses they have talked to.

The apartments have been rented at Granite Shores in downtown Elk River, but filling the commercial space is proving to be more of a challenge. Star News file photo

Part of the commercial space is also being finished into executive office suites, which don’t require a lot of parking, Soderberg said.

“We are doing everything we can to get things going,” he said of efforts to fill the commercial space.

While they are considering possibly converting some of the commercial space to apartments, the decision hasn’t yet been made.

“We’re not sure if that’s the direction we want to go,” Soderberg explained, “but the demand is definitely there for that.”

Jim Soderberg

Besides the parking issue, Soderberg told the HRA that there is an oversupply of retail and office space in downtown.

HRA Commissioner Paul Motin said he’s hesitant about seeing commercial space converted to apartments.

While the commercial market in that area is problematic now, Motin said that may not be the case long-term once the economy fully recovers.

He questioned if converting commercial space to apartments is the best thing for the city.

Soderberg said they don’t see any evidence of demand for the commercial space and more parking near the building is needed.

“I would love to fill it up with commercial, but I’m not sure that we have the parking close enough to us for it,” he said.

People looked over an apartment at Granite Shores during an open house earlier this year. Star News file photo

HRA Commissioner Larry Toth also expressed some concern about converting commercial space to apartments. He said the city is looking at more businesses in that space to help draw people to downtown, which would hopefully benefit the businesses already there.

True luxury apartment’

Soderberg said they are aiming to make it a “super fun experience” to live at Granite Shores.

An entertainment room includes an 80-inch TV and a pool table. They hope to add a larger deck off the back.

A “Pampered Paws” room is being added where tenants can bathe and take care of their pets.

There’s also a fitness center and underground, parking.

The building was originally called The Bluffs of Elk River. The apartments were intended to be owner-occupied condominiums, but only three units sold. Since purchasing the property in April, Soderberg said they have been able to buy out the three condo owners.

“It is a true luxury apartment now,” he said.

The units have amenities like stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops and hardwood floors.

While apartment buildings typically have about a 50 percent turnover in a year, Soderberg looks for Granite Shores to have a high retention rate. Three apartments will be coming open soon, including a top-floor, corner unit overlooking the river that rents for about $1,400 a month.

The least expensive apartment rents for $950 a month. The average is about $1,200 to $1,300.

HRA commissioners commended Soderberg for his efforts.

As Motin told him: “We may disagree about this commercial and residential thing, but I do think you’ve done an extraordinary job since coming to town. I have seen the changes in that building, and it looks great.”

About Granite Shores apartment tenants

•Tenants range in age from 22–79. The average age is 43.

•There are slightly more female than male tenants.

•Tenants have very high incomes. “I think probably most of the people are making close to $100,000 a year,” said Granite Shores’ Jim Soderberg.

•While Soderberg expected to draw people from farther away, the majority of tenants have come from within 15 miles of Granite Shores. The No. 1 reason they moved was a job relocation, followed by wanting to be closer to family and getting married.

Source: Granite Shores