by Eric Oslund
The Otsego City Council on Oct. 24 unanimously approved conceptual plans for a planned unit development calling for a 139-unit senior housing facility for Guardian Angels Riverview Landing.
Talks between the city and Guardian Angels continue to progress on the development as the senior housing and services provider looks to build independent, assisted living and memory care units in a campus-like setting on land it owns in the Waterfront East development. The site will include a main dining room serving meals seven days a week.
“We’re delighted to be here. I’ve been working with Guardian Angels since 2001, and I’ve been looking for land in Otsego ever since. We’re very happy with this site,” Guardian Angels president and CEO Dan Dixon said.
Council members agreed with the Planning Commission that the proposed development is consistent with its comprehensive plan and appropriate for the subject site within Waterfront East.
Following the approval of the concept plan, more approvals will be needed, including a development stage plan, a preliminary plat and a final plat.
Everyone on the City Council appeared to be excited about the opportunity to work with the Elk River-based nonprofit that celebrated 50 years last year, but there were a few concerns expressed regarding the development of this site.
The first was how it would be taxed. The senior housing facility is being built on land that was originally set aside for commercial use. Commercial buildings will tend to bring in more tax revenue for the city than residential. Guardian Angels also has one building that is exempt from taxes, but Dixon assured that is not the norm.
“It’s considered housing services,” he said. “It will have comprehensive placements with it for nursing, but it’s not skilled nursing.
“In Minnesota it’s taxed as housing, so all of our apartments pay taxes.”
Another concern was about its proximity to a stormwater pond adjacent to the development and the Mississippi River. Guardian Angels hopes to build a footbridge over that pond and then a terrace overlooking the river; council members questioned if that would create safety concerns.
Dixon assured council members that they also do not want any issues with water, so they are going to take all the precautions necessary to make sure those areas are safe for the seniors staying at their facility.
The final concern was how they will be dealing with the nearby noise levels. Cowboy Jack’s is already established right next to the land they purchased for this project, and it was noted the bar can get loud, especially weekend nights. The concern there is that the noise will bother some of the senior residents, especially if they are hoping to get to bed early.
Once again, though, Dixon assured the City Counsel that they were on top of things, citing the fact that they constructed Pullman Place Cooperative in Elk River right next to railroad tracks and have not had any problems with noise.
“The construction will be very efficient in sound and the sound deadening areas,” he said. “With this population, if you drive by any of our apartment buildings, you’ll see lights on in various units (late at night) as people have various sleep patterns. We look at it as a positive activity where the restaurant will be there. I know that you’re concerned about the sound, we built Pullman Place Cooperative next to the railroad track in Elk River and next to (trucking companies). It has never been an issue with Pullman.”
Guardian Angels anticipates breaking ground in the summer of 2017.