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Woodbury Flats project goes before city council Jan. 13

Construction of a four-building, 305-unit apartment complex could begin near Bielenberg Gardens in 2016, if the project gets the OK from the Woodbury City Council next week.

Proposed by developer Commercial Investment Properties, the Woodbury Flats apartment complex would bring a variety of studio and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in buildings ranging from three to four stories.

Located on the northwest corner of Hargis Parkway and Benjamin Drive, the property is proposed to be rezoned to allow for the apartment development, according to Eric Searles, Woodbury senior planner. The 9.4-acre project area is zoned R-1. As part of the urban village planning process that was completed in 2012, the master plan called for a mix of multifamily buildings, to townhomes, to single-family residences.

The proposed project came before the Woodbury Planning Commission at its Dec. 7 meeting, because the developer is seeking a density transfer to allow construction of the apartment buildings, since the apartments will bring more residents to the area.

A density transfer, Searles said, is common in multifamily projects because it allows for the an increase in density of a project area (the Woodbury Flats project), but ultimately will not increase the density for the overall project area as a whole (the entire urban village area). In this case, Commercial Investment Properties is asking for a density transfer from the Woodbury Flats site to yet-to-be-developed property still controlled by the Schilling family.

The move is consistent with the urban village master plan, and the city’s plans for the area as guided by the comprehensive plan.

“A guiding policy for the urban village section of the comprehensive plan is to provide higher density residential development, surrounding retail and service area to provide housing in a walkable environment with convenient access to goods and services,” Searles said at the Planning Commission meeting.

Access to the project area will be off of Benjamin Drive, Finley Road and Hargis Parkway.

The project as a whole, and the density transfer, will go before the city council for a public hearing at the Jan. 13 meeting.

If the council agrees with the proposal, the apartments will be constructed under a phased-in schedule, with construction of the first building beginning this year. Besides the four apartment buildings, the project calls for a 5,825-square-foot clubhouse that will include fitness rooms, a party room and restrooms. A tot lot and a pool are also proposed for the site.

Bailey Road impact

One of the things that local and county officials will be interested in is the impact the Woodbury Flats project has on the overall traffic count on nearby Bailey Road/County Road 18.

Bailey Road is, Washington County Engineer Wayne Sandberg said at the Dec. 7 meeting, one of the most used roads in Washington County.

“The future vision of this road really is to be a four-lane divided highway, at least on the western edge of the county,” Sandberg said. “We view this as being a parallel to how Valley Creek Road looks today, and how Valley Creek Road came about. We expect Bailey to look and operate very similar to that as we operate into the future.”

Though Washington County’s capital improvement plan calls for $4 million in construction on Bailey Road for 2020, Sandberg said the types of improvements have not yet been determined. The timing, he said, will ultimately depend on the traffic counts along the roadway. Volumes for County Road 18 are at about 11,700 vehicles per day, by the Interstate 494 interchange. In the area of Radio Drive/County Road 13 and Bailey Road/County Road 18, the traffic volume is about 8,000 vehicles per day.

New developments coming into the area may have an impact on those counts. The St. Therese of Woodbury senior living complex is scheduled to open early this year, and will likely bring more daily trips on the road. Woodbury Flats will have a similar effect.

“The county is actively monitoring and managing this corridor,” Sandberg said. “We’re doing it cooperatively with the city as development comes in.”

The county tentatively plans to widen Bailey Road, in that area, to three lanes, which would include center turn lanes, Sandberg said. However, he also acknowledged that city officials would like to plan for construction of a four-lane roadway, rather than doing two expansion projects in the future. To develop a four-lane highway through that area is possible, Sandberg said, but by today’s numbers, it would cost about $6 million per mile to do so.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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