$130M Redevelopment to Bring Senior Housing to Former Mall Site

The site of a vacant mall in a Minneapolis suburb is one step closer to being redeveloped into mixed-use, with affordable senior housing as an anchor.

The Plymouth, Minnesota City Council last week approved a plan by developer Dominium to redevelop the 17-acre Four Seasons Mall site into three affordable housing buildings — two for families and one for seniors — along with new retail and parking, Dominium Development Associate Willy Boulay told Senior Housing News.

Based in Plymouth, Dominium specializes in affordable rental apartments. It owns and/or manages over 30,000 apartments in 22 states, including a portfolio of 16 affordable senior apartment communities in the Twin Cities market. Plymouth is a market that is ripe for affordable housing and the town has not seen much new construction of affordable product for several years.

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“We felt like this was a great opportunity to provide some affordable housing options for the city,” Boulay said.

The Four Seasons Mall redevelopment is another example of the ongoing trend of incorporating senior housing as a component of mixed-use development, as well as finding new uses for sites housing obsolete malls.

Skyview on the Ridge, a vacant shopping mall in Irondequoit, New York, is being repurposed into a $43 million, 157-unit senior apartment development from Pathstone Corporation, as well as an adult day care center from St. Ann’s Community.

A challenging site

The Four Seasons Mall originally opened in 1978 and has been vacant since 2011. But the site was surrounded by wetlands, which made laying the foundation for the mall a challenge as construction crews had to design thicker building pylons and water slabs to keep the building from sinking into the soil, as well as to prevent flooding.

Retail giant Walmart acquired the property in 2011 for $10.6 million and planned to open a superstore on the site, which was rejected by city officials.

Plymouth officials drafted various concepts to redevelop the site including senior housing, and a plan by another developer to redevelop the site into a mix of retail and hotels fell through due to a lack of financing. Dominium’s original plans called for two buildings of affordable family apartments totaling 220 units, a senior housing component with 210 apartments, retail space and a 229-slot park-and-ride structure, at a cost of $130 million.

The proposal approved by the Plymouth City Council last week includes 163 affordable apartments for families, 255 affordable senior units, 23,000 square-feet of retail and the park-and-ride structure. Dominium is opting to raze the existing mall because it is obsolete for how it wants to use the site, Boulay told SHN.

“The mall is supported by timber piles which are configured differently for the weight of the apartments. We’ll need [to construct] deeper piles,” he said.

Funding for the redevelopment’s residential component will consist of low income housing tax credits (LIHTC) along with $5 million in tax increment financing, with the balance consisting of first mortgage debt. The response from the community leading up to last week’s approval was supportive, although there were some initial concerns about traffic and density which were addressed in Dominium’s revised proposal.

“The benefits of redeveloping a blighted asset makes this plan a good one, and we can help transform this site into something that is really nice,” Boulay said.

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