High-end senior housing development gained approval from the Baxter City Council earlier this month.
Gracewin Living Cooperatives requested an amendment to the city’s future land use plan from office service and medium density to high density to allow a three-story, 46-unit cooperative development on 5 acres north of Glory Road and west of Isle Drive.
The property in question is northwest of Walmart.
On its website as of Sept. 15, Gracewin Living reported 57% of its units in Baxter were already reserved. Illustrations of the design on Gracewin Living’s website show a brown building with white and russet accents and stone pillars.
The residences offer one- and two-bedroom units that are handicap accessible with an open concept floor plans, en suite master baths, walk-in closets, in-unit washer and dryer, dishwashers, breakfast counter, balcony or patio, a community guest suite, options for upgraded finishes and walk-in tubs available. Investors can select cabinet, countertops and flooring options during construction. Units ranged from 921 square feet for a one-bedroom, one-bath called a Wren; to 1,375 square feet for a two-bedroom, two-bath called a Warbler. All the units are named for birds. Amenities include a main room, meeting spaces, front and back patios, fireside lounge, community room and kitchen, mail room. Gracewin Living is hosting informational meetings in the lakes area with registration available to attend one Sept. 25 in Crosslake and Oct. 16 in Brainerd. Links to register are available on Gracewin Living’s website.
The city, at its Sept. 7 meeting, reported the developer is proposing a high-end multi-family senior housing project that provides ownership opportunity for residents, similar to a condominium. The development would be an age restricted, market rate type of development, so there are no assisted living or memory care units within the development, staff reported in a memo to the council.
The city noted the site was platted for townhome development as part of the Woodbridge Townhomes Development but the six townhome lots were never developed. The seventh lot is a vacant wooded property. There is also a wetland to the north connected to Perch Lake. The city noted office and commercial development to the east and south with residential townhomes to the west and single family homes farther west and to the south of the proposed development.
Staff findings included there are still many acres of vacant office property. “Additionally, the apartment development is for age restricted senior development, which is an ideal use near office and commercial opportunities for the residents and surrounding businesses,” according to a written staff report.
The site plan shows community gardens, pavilions and a pickleball court on the land next to the three-story building. The city’s Long Range Planning Commission recommended approval.
Council member Mark Cross asked if the developers had worked through a driveway issue with adjacent homeowners. Nate Anderson, Gracewin Living Cooperatives president, said he believed they were on the same page in working on the driveway.
Anderson said residents of the cooperative own the property and are the investors in it, similar to condominiums. Anderson said there will be a lot of greenspace on the property. It will be open to residents age 55 and older.
Gracewin Living, on its website, states it is a development initiative of Nile Inc., an architectural and engineering design firm specializing in senior living and hospitality design, adding its St. Paul team specializes in “award winning design for aging with more than 600 projects across the continuum of senior living.”
Gracewin Living Cooperative narrative
“The nature of our request is to accommodate the development of a senior cooperative, which is a highend multi-family product that provides ownership opportunity in a congregate setting, similar to condos,” Gracewin reported in a project narrative. “The request aligns nicely with the development of this area by creating a seamless transition from the commercially developed land to the East and South of the subject property to the residentially developed property to the West of the subject property.
“Through the thoughtful design and layout of the building and parking areas on the property, we have made efforts to minimize the effects of our project on the adjoining properties. The building will be in the far Northeasterly portion of the property allowing for plenty of greenspace on the West side of the property which is closer to the lower density residential property on that side. This greenspace helps our development meet the 25% greenspace requirement because of the proximity to Perch Lake without having to request any variances.
“Our site will conform to the design criteria set forth by the City of Baxter and other controlling jurisdictional authorities. From a traffic standpoint, we have designed the traffic flow for the residents to utilize a one-way in, one-way out system through the underground parking. The westerly driveway will be built to accommodate traffic both ways for guests and residents using the surface parking on site.”
The council approved the comprehensive plan amendment needed for the land use map change.
Other council business
In other business, the council:
Approved the execution of a joint powers agreement with Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District and the Mississippi Headwaters Board for the estimated $1.7 million Whiskey Creek project. The city noted the stormwater improvement project to be designed on the southern end of the former golf course along Excelsior Road, across from Super One Foods, is designed to store and treat stormwater before it reaches the Mississippi River. The goal is to remove phosphorus and suspended solids before they reach the creek and the river. The city noted the project team was able to secure $500,000 for land acquisition from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, which makes funding recommendations to the state Legislature for special environment and natural resource projects, and $890,000 for construction from the Clean Water Fund grant. Both grants were awarded to the soil and water district and the Mississippi Headwaters Board, so the city drafted a joint powers agreement to outline responsibilities. The city will manage the project. The other boards were expected to review the agreements at their September meetings.
Approved an amendment to the city hunting map to allow bow hunting on the Northland Arboretum property after receiving a request from the Arb to allow it.
“The surrounding properties abutting the area requested for archery hunting are mostly large vacant tracts of land with the exception of the south side of the property which abuts a single family residential neighborhood and a senior living facility, and a small portion in the southeast corner which abuts a day care center and an apartment building,” a city staff report stated. “The change to allow archery hunting on the subject properties would open addional land to hunting where deer populations have been problematic.”
Approved a special event application for the 2021 Alzheimer’s Association Walk from noon to 4:30 p.m. — with the walk happening about 2 p.m. — Sept. 25 at Forestview Middle School. The walk will loop out on Knollwood, left on the walking path on Highland Scenic, south on Mountain Ash and back to the school on Mapleton Road.
Awarded the sewer cleaning and televising quote for the 2022 mill and overlay and full depth reclamation improvement projects to Ritter and Ritter Sewer Service Inc. for $10,986.70. The city sought quotes for the sanitary sewer and storm sewer under Glory Road, Design Drive, Universal Drive and Fairview Road.
Approved a 2021-22 contract for Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce services in promoting the economic development of Baxter. The contract would be renewed through Aug. 31, 2022, at a cost of $265, a $16 or 6.4% increase from 2020.
Approved issuing a tobacco license and off-sale 3.2 beer license to Orton Motor Inc. from Sept. 15 to June 30, 2022. Orton Motor is purchasing the former Speedway, 5610 Fairview Road.
Approved agreements with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Central Lakes College and the city for student supervised pre-internship training. The city’s Park and Trails and Streets and Utilities divisions sought the approval for the program, which provides post-secondary, employment skills training for people with mild to moderate disabilities.
“The City is to provide training where the student can learn and develop skills/qualifications needed to achieve occupational goals while assisting in the development of trained personnel to meet future area employment needs,” the city noted in a memo on the topic. Students are compensated for their service. One student would work in each division.
Approved a memorial park bench location and inscription and accepted the donation at Oscar Kristofferson Park and Isle Drive Trail. The bench at Oscar Kristofferson Park was to be dedicated in honor of Joan Dahlberg with an inscription, “In Loving Memory of Joan Dahlberg.” The other bench was dedicated in honor of Mark Skogen with an inscription of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”
The city provides labor for installation of each bench and covers costs in excess of the $1,500 donation for the cost of concrete.
Council comments: Council member Connie Lyscio noted the Dispatch Progress edition over Labor Day and she said the reminder on the growth was welcome after the last 18 months and she appreciated the family that has been meeting at Whipple Beach for 45 years as a reminder of what a gem the Whipple Beach area is for the city. With school back in session, Lyscio also provided a reminder to watch out for school buses and their precious cargo getting on and off the buses. Mayor Darrel Olson also noted the recent triathlons at Whipple Beach sponsored by Kiwanis clubs of Brainerd and Baxter and thanked staff for how great the parks looked. Olson said they received many kind comments from people from outside the area on how much they enjoy that park. Olson thanked the sponsors and volunteers, noting the money raised goes to youth programs in the area.
Olson also read a mayoral proclamation for the week of Sept. 17 through Sept. 23 as Constitution Week with Sept. 17 marking the 234th anniversary of the drafting of the Constitution of the U.S. of America by the Constitutional Convention. The proclamation asked citizens to reaffirm the ideals of the framers of the Constitution in 1787.
Met in closed session to discuss purchase of property.