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City looks to expand senior living options

The city of Woodbury wants a developer to buy this 2-acre site south of Primrose School in the City Walk development.

Wanted: Developer to build affordable housing for seniors.

Contact: City of Woodbury.

The city is seeking senior-living construction proposals for a 2.2-acre parcel in the City Walk development. City Walk's overall development plan calls for a 45-unit, environmentally friendly, or "green," project.

Karl Batalden, city housing specialist, said while the economy could make this a tough time to sell land for residential development, demographic trends show more senior housing will be needed as baby boomers reach retirement age.

Even in an economic downturn, he added, senior housing projects may be attractive to developers because of federal housing funds that could offset building costs.

"There are some developers out there that may be interested in this," Batalden said.

That may be the case, but builders are wary of the cost of buying a site and fighting for the extremely competitive federal funds, an elderly housing expert said.

"It's very difficult," Shoreview-based architect George Cundy said of securing affordable housing aid. "On the flipside of that, there's an overwhelming demand out there."

Cundy serves on the National Association of Home Builders' senior housing council, and worked on the Cardinal Way twin-home development in Woodbury. He said developers may want the city to help secure federal funding.

"If they're really interested in doing this, they need to be proactive," Cundy said of city officials.

The city bought the land for $615,000 in 2004. It is located south of City Walk Drive and west of Lake View Drive.

City officials plan to have site tours and a question-and-answer session with interested developers later this month, ahead of a November deadline for developers' offers. A developer also could propose affordable housing for residents with special needs.

The City Walk development also awaits construction of a 242-unit apartment building.