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New plans emerge for Newport's Red Rock Crossing development

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Newport will likely look much different in a decade, thanks to a redevelopment plan moving through the Washington County Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

Known as Red Rock Crossing, the redevelopment plan covers property to the west of U.S. Highway 61, south of Interstate 494. Broken into four phases, the project is expected to evolve over the next decade, according to HRA Executive Director Barbara Dacy.

The plan calls for new apartments and townhomes, new retail space and a potential business and office park. The implementation of the Red Rock Crossing plan will start early next year, when construction of the new 42-unit Red Rock Square apartment complex gets underway.

The Red Rock Crossing development is nothing new to Washington County. The original Red Rock Crossing redevelopment plan dates back to June, 2012, when it was approved by the county HRA and the City of Newport. In the time since, the HRA has acquired several parcels of land, developed a marketing plan, and, earlier this year, updated the project's market study.

At a May 3 workshop with the Washington County Board of Commissioners, HRA Deputy Executive Director Melissa Taphorn said the updated market study confirmed findings of the one from 2012—that Newport has a need for affordable, market rate and senior housing.

Scheduled to be open in 2018, the Red Rock Square project signals the beginning of redevelopment in the area.

"For Newport, this is the very first significant multifamily housing project in 30 years," Taphorn said. "This is really only capturing 3 percent of the demand for that type of housing in that market."

Red Rock Square will be built by a private developer, MWF Properties, and will be located directly west of the transit station. It is the first project, in the first area identified for redevelopment through the Red Rock Crossing plan.

Area 1/Phase 1 is bordered by County Road 38 to the west, and I-494/Highway 61 to the north and east. Plans for the area include the Red Rock Square apartments, as well as 50,000 square feet for business and the existing transit station.

Also bordered to the west by County Road 38, Area 2/Phase 2 abuts Area 1 to the south. Area 2 tentatively includes 200 apartment units, 62 senior living units and 10,000 square feet of retail space.

Area 3/Phase 3 is south of 21st Street. Development in that area would include 19 townhomes, and 7,000 square feet for restaurant space. It is envisioned that this area will transition Newport from the high density of apartments to the lower density of single-family residences south of the project area.

The final section, Area 4/Phase 4, is on the west side of County Road 38, north of 21st Street. While that area is not expected to be developed for "quite some time," Dacy said, the land is listed as "potential for a business park/office" development.

The retail and business development will likely come after the construction of more housing, Dacy said.

"For retail development, there needs to be more rooftops before that comes in," she said.

The HRA's role, Taphorn said, has been to help remove barriers to the redevelopment, by buying properties and helping to relocate property owners and doing soil cleanup and remediation when necessary. Additionally, the HRA is working on getting financing for the project, by implementing tools like HRA levy, tax increment financing and grants.

Commissioner Karla Bigham, who represents Newport on the county board, is pleased with the redevelopment plans.

"I'm born and raised in Newport," she noted. "This is very near and dear to my heart."

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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