Opus abandons plans for Lilydale apartment project in former Moose Country bar – Twin Cities
Opus Development has moved away from a planned seniors’ apartment project on the site of the closed Moose Country bar and adjacent mall in Lilydale, citing difficulties obtaining funding during a pandemic.
Over the past two years, Opus had worked with owner Joe Schaefer and city and state officials on a redevelopment plan for a senior housing complex on the 5.7-acre site, which sits atop the Mississippi River, off the Sibley Memorial Highway, just northeast of Interstate 35E.
A scheduled public hearing on Opus’ nearly $ 4 million tax hike funding request to the city was called off last month.
“Our Opus team worked with the City of Lilydale and other government officials to successfully overcome the challenges in the early stages of pursuing this project,” said Phil Cattanach, vice president and general manager of Opus, in a statement emailed last week. “In the end, we made the decision not to go ahead as the ongoing pandemic continues to pose unique challenges for funding projects in the senior housing sector.
The move is another setback for Schaefer and city officials and others awaiting the redevelopment of the old mall, which was closed in late 2018 and which Mayor Warren Peterson recently described as in poor condition and a horror”.
Schaefer said last week that he “received” seven offers from other people to buy the property.
“I don’t like the timing, and this pandemic was definitely not good, was good for nothing,” Schaefer said. “But we’re going to take these offers – they’re on our desk – and once we’ve got them all together, we’re going to pick one.”
FAILURE OF A PREVIOUS OFFER
Schaefer closed Moose Country Whiskey & Food after making a deal with another developer to sell the decades-old bar and 29,000 square foot River Bluffs Center. About 20 tenants were moved, including the Joke Joint Comedy Club and the Perfect Ash cigar store.
Developer Lifestyle Communities backed out of a purchase, but Opus stepped up in January 2019 with an offer to Schaefer and a plan to build senior apartments.
Opus has faced the challenges of the site from almost the start, with concerns about the height of the building, cliff and road setbacks, and a stormwater management plan.
Opus tweaked an initial plan based on comments received from the planning committee and objections from the Friends of the Mississippi River river advocacy group, which said it would encroach on the cliff face and detract from the scenic beauty of River.
Opus changed the shape of the building, which decreased encroachment on the cliff and improved front recoil.
Lilydale is located in the critical area of the Mississippi River Corridor, which provides a framework for the management and regulation of development. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources oversees the area, but the ultimate authority lies with local governments who make, administer, and enforce plans and ordinances.
VANDAL DRAWINGS SITE
A concept plan approved by city council in mid-2019 proposed a five-story building with 143 senior citizen apartments, mostly independent and assisted living, but also 21 memory care units. Ebenezer Senior Living reportedly operated the building, according to Opus.
In its TIF plan handed over to the city in April, Opus asked the city to create a TIF neighborhood around the redevelopment project and asked for 90% of the tax increase refunds available over 18 years or $ 3.9 million. , whichever comes first.
At the time, Opus representatives said that the effect of the pandemic on market conditions in the real estate sector, particularly senior housing, had also prompted an in-depth reassessment and review of return policies. investors. In turn, this has resulted in substantial increases in financial performance measures.
Schaefer said another developer could “piggyback” on what Opus has been able to do over the past two years. He said the project will be residential – apartments, condos, retirement homes – and not retail. “There is definitely no retail,” he said.
In the meantime, Schaefer has acknowledged recent discussions on social media from residents and others about the vacant buildings, which have been broken into and vandalized.
“I can’t try to tell you it doesn’t look so bad,” he said. “It looks terrible and I hope it goes away soon. The police are doing a good job of keeping an eye on it. My guy is over there laying plywood when he needs to.
Moose Country started out as Pony’s American Bar in 1984 when Joe and Lina Schaefer bought an old bar that was part of Diamond Jim’s Mall. In the late 1980s, the bar was renamed Jose’s “Cheeks & Cheers,” one of four locations bearing that name that the Schaefers once owned and operated. They changed the name to Moose Country in the 1990s.