Chanhassen city commissioners and staff recently boarded a SouthWest Transit bus at City Hall to get a firsthand look at new commercial and residential projects in the city.
During the past year, the former Chanhassen Inn was razed and replaced by a Panera Bread restaurant; a portion of the Frontier shopping strip was removed to make way for an apartment complex and grocery store; and a new senior housing project is slated to open later this year.
The Aug. 7 tour began downtown at the Venue apartment complex, anchored by an Aldi grocery store.
From there, the tour continued past the former Applebee’s Restaurant, which will become a new restaurant called Tequila Butcher. The city owned land across the street from the site will be made into a 22-vehicle parking lot, to accommodate additional parking for the new restaurant.
Michael Hoagberg, managing director of Headwaters Development, led the group on a tour of the yet unfinished Riley Crossing, at 620 Aldrich Drive.
The facility will be managed and operated by Ebenezer, described as Minnesota’s largest senior living operator.
Riley Crossing will offer a continuum of housing options for seniors, from independent living to assisted living and memory care.
Riley Crossing will have 143 units, plus nine townhomes, adjacent to the main building.
To encourage intergenerational socializing, it will include a daycare with four classrooms for a maximum of 90 children, from age 3 months to 5 years.
The apartment rentals are market rate, and not eligible for elder waivers. According to Hoagberg, the average age of residents is 83-85 years old. The townhomes average $5,000 a month, and costs vary depending on the amenity package selected.
Apartment units range from $1,800 to $3,900 a month, depending on the amenity plan purchased.
Hoagberg said that marketing Riley Crossing just began, and as of Aug. 7 was 25 percent leased, with 325 on the interested list.
Jerry Cerchia, chair of the Senior Commission, liked what Riley Crossing is offering seniors, but also sees a continued need for affordable senior housing.
“Since its inception, the Chanhassen Senior Commission has always advocated for more, and affordable, housing for seniors,” Cerchia said after the tour. “While there are certainly more age-restricted housing units in the city than 30 years ago, the growth of the senior demographic is growing faster than the ability to provide the kind of housing that many/most seniors desire.
“The sweet spot is main level living homes — 1,800- to 2,500-square-foot homes — in either a townhome, twin home or villa/ranch configuration in the $250,000 to $350,000 price range. There is very little available inventory in these configurations. When one does come on the market, it is snapped up very quickly.
“There is also another dynamic in play,” Cerchia said. “There is another age demographic that is now competing with seniors for the same type of housing — millennials.
“This demographic has discovered that low maintenance (no mowing, snow plowing, etc.) housing fits their lifestyle better than a large, free–standing home. This is not likely to change any time soon. We, as seniors, will be challenged with this issue for the foreseeable future.
“We’ve all heard the term ‘aging in place.’ The ability to stay in your home, in your familiar neighborhood forever,” Cerchia said.
“Aging in place is great — until it’s not. All it takes is one death or infirmity of a spouse to force a housing change. These are the key housing challenges that seniors face, and will continue to face.”
Allison Fischer, property manager, provided an overview of Venue, a market-rate apartment building at 541 78th St. W. A monument for the building was installed two weeks ago, and the apartment rental is 36 percent leased as of Aug. 14.
There are 134 units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms; renters need to verify their monthly income is 2-1/2 times the monthly rent. Demographics for the leased renters ranges from millennials to seniors and empty-nesters, Fischer said.
Andrew Shaw, Aldi director of real estate, said that the trend is to anchor housing with grocery stores, and that the Chanhassen site is similar to Aldi projects at Lake Street and Uptown in Minneapolis.
Shaw explained the Aldi concept as being a select assortment store, which is meant to be close to other grocery competitors. A select assortment of goods, or more limited inventory of goods, encourages shoppers to patronize other grocers.
“We’re thrilled to be part of (the Venue) project,” Shaw said, pointing out that new stores were recently built in Waconia and Chaska.
The Chanhassen Aldi has started hiring employees. Wages start at $14.30 an hour. The store plans to open in October.
Currently the name for the new restaurant at the former Applebee’s site is Tequila Butcher.
The owners plan a $1 million renovation to the existing building and adding two outdoor patios.
In addition to the existing parking lot, the city will build a parking lot on the south side of 79th Street West to accommodate 22 vehicles, and upgrade the street to accommodate traffic flow.
The restaurant plans to open later this fall.
Avienda, the lifestyle development at Lyman Boulevard and Powers Boulevard, is still in the planning stage, according to City Manager Todd Gerhardt.
“It’s the biggest project the city has taken on,” Gerhardt said. “Look at how long The Park development took; this is twice the size and it’s a mixed use with residential and commercial.”
“There’s a lot of planning involved. Still, they’re hoping to get some grading in yet this year. And some grading can be done in winter in the lower area,” Gerhardt said.