A flurry of apartment projects either under construction or in the City of Eden Prairie’s review pipeline could quickly increase the number of local households.
The 24,790 Eden Prairie households identified in the 2020 Census would increase by 3.6 percent – more than 900 households – if three apartment projects that are already approved or seeking the city’s OK reach fruition and become fully occupied.
Two other projects described as strictly conceptual at this point would raise those numbers even more.
It reflects a Twin Cities-area multi-family housing market that is benefiting from what Matthew Mullins, vice president at Maxfield Research & Consulting, in Roseville, called “a perfect storm from the demographic standpoint.” That is, a large baby-boomer demographic that is downsizing and a large millennial demographic that is delaying home purchases in a market where homes are in short supply.
Add to that the fact that Eden Prairie remains highly desirable but lacks large tracts of open land where single-family housing could be built, and you begin to understand why small, “infill” parcels and properties ripe for redevelopment are attracting apartment projects.
And, there’s more, says Mullins: Unlike in Minneapolis, projects in the suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas generally have enough land to build the much-sought-after, larger apartments with lots of amenities, which are popular in part because of the work-from-home trend driven by the spread of COVID-19.
Further, construction of the Southwest LRT route from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie will continue to be a factor in local apartment construction, said city Community Development Director Julie Klima, as developers aim to place housing near LRT stations.
Current Eden Prairie apartment projects include:
- Paravel, a 246-unit apartment project by Timberland Partners with construction underway in the southwest quadrant of Prairie Center Drive and Flying Cloud Drive, next to the Flagstone senior-housing complex.
- The Ellie, a United Properties proposal for 239 apartments north of Smith Coffee & Café along Eden Prairie Road that has received preliminary approval from the city council.
- Blue Stem North, a Greco Properties LLC plan for a two-phase project totaling 425 apartments at 6901 Flying Cloud Drive, not far from the planned Golden Triangle LRT station; this project will be reviewed by the Eden Prairie Planning Commission on Jan. 10.
In addition, RE Equities has received the city’s preliminary OK to pursue housing revenue bonds for multi-family projects on the northwest and northeast corners of the intersection of Valley View and Baker roads for a total of 315 apartment units described as currently “very much speculative” by Jonathan Stanley, the housing and community services manager for the City of Eden Prairie.
Mullins says the Twin Cities area has been riding a wave of apartment construction for about the last decade, as investors remain bullish on the return on investment for this type of development – even as developers have shouldered higher construction costs.
Of 15,075 housing permits issued last year in the Twin Cities, according to Housing First Minnesota, 51% were for multi-family units.
A lot of recent construction has been outside the core cities and part of what Mullins calls an “amenities war”: the increasing tendency to build apartment projects that include home offices, kitchen islands, high ceilings, covered parking, co-working facilities, and even pickleball courts.
He sees the apartment market cooling in the future, but not idling.
While Eden Prairie resident and developer Scott Carlston believes Eden Prairie will continue to see its share of new construction because of its attractive features, he’s a bit taken aback by the amount of Twin Cities apartment construction that’s taking place.
Carlston, who played a part in the construction of the local Martin Blu and Elevate apartment complexes and Eden Prairie Senior Living, says it often takes three years for an apartment project to get from concept to construction, so it’s fair to ask if today’s construction boom will overshoot tomorrow’s demand for rental units.
“And that we don’t know,” he said. “I do think we really have to make sure everything is done while looking down the road, financially.”
In any case, the local boom in apartment construction has helped the city’s effort to stimulate some housing that’s more affordable than market rental rates.
For example, a project like The Ellie can include up to 60 units that are below market rents, thanks to a new city policy that requires apartment complexes to reserve a share of the units for people with lower incomes.
When those affordable units are close to transportation, as is proposed with Blue Stem North, it’s fulfilling multiple goals outlined in the city’s long-range plan. Said Stanley: “It’s nice when those things come together.”
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