It's been nearly 20 years in the making, but Coon Rapids now has a purchase agreement for one of the largest redevelopment areas in the city. Curious residents filled an open house this week to learn more about the 35-acre site.
Labeled Port Riverwalk nearly two decades ago, progress has been slow for the prime bit of real estate along Coon Rapids Boulevard, not far from the Coon Rapids Dam.
“It's been a somewhat tough site to develop, just because it's so large,” explained Matt Brown, economic development coordinator for Coon Rapids.
“There's a market for development at this location but it's a large, linear site, so we've been working with Centra Homes for the past couple of years on some concepts.”
Back in the early 2000s, several buildings were demolished along Coon Rapids Boulevard to make way for new growth. But the housing crisis, and recession that followed, stalled earlier attempts to redevelop the land.
Now, Centra Homes has a signed purchase agreement to build 145 detached townhomes on the site. The developer expects to have a full set of plans complete by the end of the year. The plan should go before the Coon Rapids planning commission in January. The city plans to build new trails, lighting and landscape starting in the spring of 2019.
The city will also add a third lane to the eastbound side of Coon Rapids Boulevard. It could address one of the biggest concerns residents have raised: an increase in traffic. Traffic studies done in the area suggest the added housing is not enough to negatively impact traffic. Construction on the road is also scheduled for next spring.
“It's certainly one of the larger-scale development projects we've seen in recent years and it really is exciting to see this type of housing product,” said Brown.
“It's something that we haven't seen a lot of in Coon Rapids in recent years. We feel there's a good demand for it.”
Long-time resident Toni Walker is part of that demand. She attended the open house hoping to get more details about the new homes, like floor plans and home prices. Walker intends to downsize soon, and Port Riverwalk is where she wants to be.
“I’ve been watching them for three years, waiting for them to build on that spot, ever since I first heard about it,” she said.
“I've got my house picked out! I just wish there was a floor plan to go with it.”
Learn more about Port Riverwalk here.
Jennifer Anderson reporting