Tangletown Neighborhood Association
Regular Meeting, Monday, June 18, 2007
7:00 P.M. Fuller Park
1. Call to Order by Sarah Cortright, chairing the meeting as Vice President.
2. Approval of Agenda
3. Approval of Minutes from May 2007. Some amendments will be made to clarify direct quotations and to reflect some additional comments in opposition.
4. Citizen planning grant of $2,000 has been received.
5. July 4th planning has continued and the event will happen as usual, 10am to 1pm.
6. Mayflower continuation of discussion from last month.
[NOTE: In the following notes, the person named is making the statements immediately following, usually ending with a new paragraph. Direct quotations are not used but the person’s comments are paraphrased as accurately as possible given the rapid nature of the discussion. Questions from the floor are indicated by Q and answers by A, with the person answered noted for clarity when possible. (It is not often we have the honor of not just our city council member but the Mayor at a meeting, and the Board thanks them for their attendance). Not all questions were answered directly so there is not always an A for every Q.]
DISCUSSION Lee Blons of Plymouth Neighborhood Association started the presentation with questions from last month’s meeting. [In response to some questions, about one-third of those in attendance at the meeting live very close, within 2 blocks, of the proposed development.] She restated the basic information about the project. She stated that the project is currently seeking financial assistance for the project as well as planning approvals with the city. Some rezoning, she said, is required for the project as proposed. In followup from questions from last month, she said: – there is a report on the impact of affordable/workforce housing on property values [a copy of this was handed out to those who wished to have one.]
Q. What is definition of workforce housing ? A. Those who earn working wages in the community. Q. Does not include homeowners? A. No.
Mayor R.T. Rybak addressed the group. [Separately the Mayor is helping organize a meeting in the neighborhood on airport noise development, June 27th, Richfield Lutheran Church, 6-7pm].
Paraphrasing the Mayor’s comments: I understand this project has raised interest and concerns. I have worked with this group before and they are amazing. This group has good experience. At Franklin and Nicollet, there were concerns about property values and they were addressed. What we have with this proposal is something incredibly important for the city. This housing is labeled affordable but that would be include half the households in the city of Minneapolis. This proposal will be on a transit corridor, Nicollet, and also on the proposed Bus Rapid Transit line along 35W. This proposal will help commercial development. But I am really careful about which developers need support, and the church will be there as well. Knowing what I know about this group and this situation, I think you will all be happy in a few years.
Q. What about City Limits apartments near Cub? A. (Mayor): those kind of large projects are not what are proposed any longer. This proposal will be much better managed.
Q. How far back does the reputation of this developer go? A. (Mayor): from the first week I was in office (2002), I had to deal with a proposal right by Plymouth Church. I stood with that proposal at Blaisdell and Franklin and there has been a number of other developments since then in the area. In 2004, Plymouth helped with other well-managed and affordable housing projects. Mayflower Church is an additional partner that makes the projecd stronger. Q. So 5 years’ experience.
Q. What evidence is there that property values aren’t affected? A. (Mayor): The Boulevard housing development at 54th and Lyndale was a big controversy a few years ago. The city was working with Kowalski’s and the fact that more people living across the street helped attract them. Q. But doesn’t commercial values tend to depress housing values since more density for customers does not enhance residential values? A (Mayor): residential values around 54th and Lyndale went up. Tangletown Gardens has been a positive for the neighborhood. Q: is there any comparative data on housing values? A (Sarah Cortright): there is conflicting data and studies on this.
Q. The Boulevard project should not be compared with this proposal since it is on a busy street, not a residential street, and Boulevard has market-rate units instead of a massive rental proposal. A. (Mayor): Plymouth and Mayflower are stronger partners in this project than the Boulevard. Q. Where is there a project of this scale on a street that is not a bus line? The scale is intimidating.
Q. Have any real estate appraisals been done over the long-term? A.
Q. There has been a lot of controversy over McMansions and being out of scale. This is a rental McMansion: Traffic and scale are too much. A (Mayor): the issues you raise are good ones; the issues of scale and traffic and impact need to be addressed as we go through this process. The site is a very interesting location. I will keep pressure on the developer to look at the scale issue.
Q. In the examples you gave of LaSalle, there has been a lot of owner occupied condos developed so didn’t that help? A (Mayor): there are not exactly similar neighborhoods.
Q. When Liberty Custard was proposed, the alterative was a garage and neighborhood concerns helped give us Liberty Custard.
Q. Will Mayflower give the neighbors say over more than just the color of the building? A. [Lee Blons]: The previous meeting comment was that the church said the neighbors could have a say on the color of the building, but not of the tenants.
Q. What is parking requirement? A. 0.9 [spaces per housing unit] for these kinds of units. Q. Is that being met right now on the other rental buildings in the immediate area. A. [Mayor]: we need to look at traffic issues. A (Sarah Cortright): this issue is being addressed by the developer and the city.
Q. Where can I find the city’s Comprehensive Plan? A. [Mayor]: the city is redoing the plan right now so you can participate.
City’s web site is: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/planning/
Comprehensive Plan update is at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/planning/comp_plan_update.asp
Planning Commission is at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/planning/commission/index.asp
Agendas are at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/cped/agendas/planning-commission/
Q. Mr Mayor, you are standing behind Plymouth as developers but we talked with some neighborhood people in Northeast Nokomis Neighborhood Association who found them very arrogant, uncooperative and offensive to the neighbors. A. [Mayor]: I have not found that to be true.
Q. Will this property be tax exempt? A. [Lee Blons]. The project is not tax exempt. The property tax rate is higher than homestead but lower than commercial. [Mayor]: this project is better with a good non-profit developer than many would be with for-profit. Q. I don’t think this building will pay over ¼ million dollars per year based on 40 units times what I pay. Q. Why not put this project on a site which already has the appropriate zoning? Russ Adams: I don’t have the answer to that.
Russ Adams, Executive Director of the the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability (http://www.metrostability.org/) made a short statement. His comments, paraphrased: we work all over the metro area, your concerns are very appropriate. You should ask about design standards and seek good a well-managed building. This is a medium density proposal. Q. That does not seem medium. What is definition of medium? A. Less than 20 units per acre.
Adams continued: this project is a model of helping people get beyond being just a renter, with on-site services. Absentee landlord ownership would be a disaster but this is well-managed and well-designed. I have seen only good impacts on property values from well- designed projects. [Q. Can you give us research or studies on the places were it did not work?] You have every right to pressure the developers and ask hard questions.
More questions from the floor. Q. What does evidence-based best practices say? It seems that nationally the trend is to scattered-site approaches, and section 8 vouchers. This proposal does not seem consistent with this trend. A. [Adams]: there are some places that are building 100% affordable housing in a number of places in the metro area. There is not one kind of project being built.
Q. Itasca project looked at racial and other disparities in the metro area. Their report showed that most jobs are beyond 5 miles of downtown. So why locate more people in the city?A. [Mayor]: I was on that study and it proposed transit-based development along transit corridors. I will be in Washington DC tomorrow to talk about funding for a project to promote transit-based development.
Q. But 80% of the new jobs being created are outside the central cities. A. [Mayor]: we are trying to get good transit to serve both the downtowns and suburban job opportunities. [Adams]: BRT along I35W will allow for reverse commuting. The location of new job openings (eg people leaving existing jobs) and the location of newly created jobs is not the same.
Q. How is this considered smart or green growth? A. [Adams]: integrates transportation corridors, transit, commercial nodes, design. There is a negotiation process that will continue over the next few months.
Q. I am a member of Mayflower and would like to know about the cost-effectiveness of the 40 unit proposal? Q. What scares me is that all the people who have influence on this project seem to be in favor. The Mayor is for it and the developers are for it but these are the kinds of people that we have to take our concerns to? Q. What can concerned neighbors do to get our presentation of our concerns heard?
A. Sarah Cortright. We should set up a separate meeting to have that kind of discussion.
Q. But TNA is asking various speakers who seem to be supporting this project? Why can’t we have time on an agenda to make our presentation? The last meeting we seemed only to have people speaking for the project? Why can we not hear about the reasons for the number of units? Or why not put this project on another [land] site?
Q. [Mayor]: the number one issue in the city right now is foreclosure. There has been too much concentration of certain social issues in one or two parts of the city and all areas need to play a role. Q: but why not put this building on an abandoned drug house? A. [Mayor]: we are doing that? But people in those areas ask “why can’t other areas help as well?”
Q. The scale of this project changes the balance of the immediate surroundings. A. [Lee Blons]. In terms of economies of scale and operating costs, the number of units drives the overall cost-effectiveness that funders look for. The median income in this neighborhood (Tangletown) is $75,000 vs $37,000 in the city as a whole.
Q. Where does the subsidy for the rent come from? And is there a need for more apartments in this neighborhood? There are many vacancies already. Why not use the housing voucher approach? A. [Lee Blons]. 80% of units won’t have rent subsidies. Capital costs are what is reduced by tax credits. City’s financing is 30 year deferred loan, at a likely 0-2% interest rate. 20% of units are rent subsidized by state (MHFA) and other funds. Housing vouchers is about 2-3 year waiting list. Q. But won’t this project then allow people to get special consideration over those waiting for a voucher. A. [Lee Blons]: Most affordable housing proposals now are about lowering the capital cost and getting the ongoing operating costs down. The vacancy rate we (Plymouth) have looked at in Tangletown does not seem high for the kinds of 2-3 bedroom units in this proposal.
Q. Did other proposals Plymouth has developed address neighborhood concerns?
A. [Lee Blons]. We have had neighborhood association support in all but one case.
Q. [Rev Sarah Campbell]: we went door-knocking in the neighborhood and found support. [Large response from audience]: who did you talk to since lots of neighbors are in opposition? There are 32 people on a Google group that are opposed.
Q. What is in this proposal financially for Mayflower? A. [Rev Sarah Campbell]: it is part of the gospel. A. [Lee Blons for Plymouth]: there will be a developer fee that the city allows. The developer uses the fee to sustain the non-profit developer. The rental income will come in to pay for maintenance over the next 30 years.
Q. Is the city still pursuing more density as a goal? A. [Mayor]. Yes. The million people coming to the metro area in the next few decades need to be located around transit corridors. The city’s long range plan is for more density along transit corridors.
Q. Is there any other non-profit developers putting workforce housing into Tangletown?
A. [Lee Blons]: we are not aware of any.
Q. Why not put this money (city subsidy) into vouchers? A [Mayor]: we have been doing some scattered-site developments. But one of the problems is that people with vouchers tend to end up concentrated into some areas such as parts of north Minneapolis. Q. why is that (refusing to rent to people with vouchers); isn’t there a good reason for that? A. [Lee Blons]: often times the rent in voucher programs is too low. And the amount of paperwork and inspections are unpopular with some landlords.
Sarah Cortright: the board will have an agenda item next month for those concerned with this project to present information, if a request is made.
Q. Is there an example of where you, the developer, has had rezoning opposed by substantial numbers of people? A. [Lee Blons]: With our Lydia project in Stevens Square, the proposal went to the city council and the neighborhood association which opposed the project 3 years ago now supports it.
Q. Is that a 55/45% owner rental neighborhood like Tangletown? A. No that was 95% rental but there was some new owner condo developments coming.
[For people interested in this issue, there is a Google Groups (‘Mayflower Housing Watch’) that those concerned about the project can communicate. You will need a Google account (free) and to make a request to join the group to participate.]
Q. How is the neighborhood defined? The people most affected are in a small area. It feels like the IDS tower is being put into my neighborhood? A. [Mayor]: city planner can help explain how the process will work.
[Planner]: project proposers will be seeking rezoning, some conditional permits, land use applications. Staff will make findings. Planning Commission then acts on the recommended approval or denial. Rezoning only goes to City Council. Criteria can be found on the city’s web site and the 11-page Guide to Development. [The following appears to be that document: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/planning/docs/zoningguide10-04.pdf but check the web site carefully.] Planning Commission meetings are open and neighbors will be notified.
Sarah Cortright summarized next actions:
Questions for next meeting should be emailed to Tangletown Board (firstname.lastname@example.org)
If a written request from opponents is received, we will have time on the next agenda.
If you have an email address, please submit it to the TNA web site (by signing up for the Yahoo Group) and we’ll try to keep people informed on what is happening.
7. July 4th Meeting discussion Laura Silver emailed assignments in an email. Please come at 8.30am to help with last minute arrangements. Sarah will get some ice and change for ticket sales. Some left over t-shirts will be available for sale.
8. Put on web site that all block leaders should get emails to TNA.
9. Election of officers for the Board for 2007-2008 deferred to next month.
Attendance: Sarah Cortright, Mary Davidson, Jerry Doyle, Supat Tipayamongkol, Ryan Fisher, Mary Jane Mitchell
Not present: Meredith Johnson, Joe Thiegs.
Sarah Cortright, Mary Davidson, Jerry Doyle, Ryan Fisher, Andrew Hedden, Meredith Johnson, Joe Thiegs, Mary Jane Mitchell, Chris Burns.