Hammers farm

The old Hammers farm site is intended to be used as an active older adult housing community.

An 86-acre lot previously used as farmland is looking more likely to be approved as a senior housing community just north of downtown Chaska.

The houses on cul de sacs and a private recreation center, together named Pinnacle, would sit southwest of Victoria Drive and Highway 41.

At a recent Chaska City Council meeting, councilors voted to bypass a formal environmental study, adjust a few road plans, and move the site’s proposed recreation center.

After a March planning commission, city leaders said environmental work and research has been done on the site.

The concept plan for the 200+ detached home site, for adults ages 55 and older, was approved in 2018. July 1, 2021 is the developer’s tentative grand opening, meaning developers would start marketing the unfinished site then.

CHANGES

The recreation center is now proposed to sit on the west end of the site, instead of the center, to preserve more trees, said Liz Hanson, Chaska city planner. The one-story, 7,000-square-foot building would have a fitness center, social lounge, craft rooms, meeting rooms, and a locker area.

Trees on the lot originally slated for the rec center include oak and maple, Hanson said, opening up that area “for those trees to be saved.”

Other changes include sidewalks on both sides of most streets and a few route alterations, and street stubs have been added ahead of construction. The historic Hammers farmstead building will still be preserved.

Cost estimates remain between the $200,000 and $500,000 range per unit, depending on size and amenities. All owners will pay the same HOA fee — somewhere in the $200s per month.

The three construction phases will remain the same, with the exception of the rec center.

Perhaps the biggest debate at the council meeting came over the decision to not move forward with two park expansions. Hanson said developers agreed new equipment or play space is “no longer needed” considering the older ages of incoming homeowners.

“Both park expansions have been eliminated,” Hanson said.

Several neighbors living close to the proposed property voiced a desire to grow the parks, but Paul Heuer with Pulte Homes said the choice to not do so is relatively firm.

“Typically this buyer does not want a playground near their home and near their amenity center,” he said.

“I can see where that can cause some possible heartache there,” Mayor Mark Windschitl said. “I think we should have some conversations on that. I do know that that is some of the concerns of the neighbors.”

Kevin Vranicar lives in the area with his four children.

“This neighborhood is packed full of kids and it’s going to be that way for the foreseeable future,” he said at the meeting. “If you really don’t want kids (nearby) then you picked the wrong location.”

Neighbor Amy Weldon said she and her family value the nearby nature and are in favor of a park expansion.

“We bought our house based on that green space that was going to expand,” she said. “Now you’re just closing everything out and just getting rid of our space.”

After some debate over green space, parks, traffic and roads, councilors see the project moving forward. Adjustments can still take place if and when things are finalized.

“In my eyes I still believe it is a positive project,” Windschitl said. “I think that when it’s done, I think that the neighborhood will be fine.”

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