Plans to build another large apartment complex along Eden Prairie Road near Smith Coffee & Café cleared a hurdle Monday, Nov. 8, with approval from the Eden Prairie Planning Commission.
Next is a review by the Eden Prairie City Council.
Endorsed 8-1 on Monday was a United Properties plan to build a 239-unit apartment complex on Lincoln Lane, replacing seven older single-family homes there.
The four-story building immediately north of Smith Coffee & Café would be called The Ellie after Elizabeth Fries Ellet, the East Coast writer credited with giving Eden Prairie its name after visiting the area and calling it the garden spot of the territory.
It would follow several apartment complexes recently built south of Smith Coffee & Café, including Applewood Pointe – also developed by United Properties – and the CommonBond Communities project called Trail Pointe Ridge.
Commissioners on Monday said a mark in The Ellie’s favor is that it will include some apartment units that meet affordability criteria. How many units that will be depends on whether the city allows tax-increment financing (TIF) to be used to build the project. TIF is an investment tool that diverts a portion of the property taxes to help financing, without affecting the city’s tax levy. Those talks are underway.
Still, the size of the project was a point of contention at Monday’s planning commission hearing. Neighbor Elizabeth Petry testified that 239 units on 6.4 acres is not in line with what exists in the area, and Commissioner Carole Mette agreed. The proposed 37 units per acre is well above Applewood Pointe at 26 units per acre and Trail Pointe Ridge at 29 units per acre.
Mette said that redeveloping the area into apartment use “makes sense. But what we have here is too much,” she added. “This is too much density that we’re trying to pack onto the site.”
But other commissioners said that in order to attain affordable housing in Eden Prairie, some projects that are redevelopments or are taking place on remnant pieces of land may need more units than projects built years ago.
“Eden Prairie is growing, and the growth is going to show up as increased density in certain areas,” said Commissioner John Kirk.