The Free Press

A majority of area respondents support a new plan to redevelop land north of the downtown Cub Foods, according to a Free Press online question.

Out of 214 total respondents, 149 voters — almost 70% — supported the new development project to bring affordable housing to the city of Mankato’s former public works site. Another 65 disagreed.

A $36 million plan from the Cohen-Esrey Development Group offers nearly 100 units of affordable housing as part of a complex that would include 117 apartments and townhomes on the vacant lot north of Cub Foods West. The Mankato City Council’s approval of the plan last week brings to an end the two-year effort by Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership to redevelop the 5-acre site.

Kansas-based Cohen-Esrey’s plan gives a nod to one of Minnesota’s most famous authors. Sinclair Flats would be a 48-unit apartment building — 10 market-rate units and 38 reserved for lower-income workers — across Lamm Street from the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota. On the western end of the lot would be Lewis Lofts —a pair of four-story 30-unit buildings aimed at providing affordable housing for senior citizens.

Between the Sinclair and Lewis buildings would be Main Street Townhomes, nine townhouses targeted at average-income individuals and families (80-125% of the median income.)

Most of the senior apartments would rent from $802 and $956 per month — targeted at seniors with incomes of 60% or less of the area median. The units aimed at working-age individuals and families would range from $360 to $655 for one bedroom, the low end for tenants with incomes of up to 30% of the area median, the higher end for those at 60% of the median. Two-bedroom apartments range from $426 to $956, with three bedrooms renting for between $888 and $1,092. The median income for an individual in 2019 was $27,500, rising to $31,400 for a two-person household and $39,250 for a family of four.

A 7,500-square-foot retail building is also included in the plans, with Cohen-Esrey stating that the preferred tenant would be a daycare center or possibly a Montessori pre-school.

The proposal assumes that Stoltzman Road would be extended through the Cub Foods parking lot and through the center of the housing complex, connecting with Sibley Parkway on the parcel’s north side.

The Free Press online question, sent out Friday, asked, “Do you support the new plan to redevelop Mankato’s former public works site near the downtown Cub Foods?”

There were two options to answer, “yes” or “no.”

Commenters were split on the proposed housing project. Some thought the plans sound promising, while others cautioned it may not be the right time to invest in affordable housing.

Robert Palmer wrote, “I think they do a good job of addressing all the different needs.”

“I don’t disagree with the proposal but at this time with the issue of the virus and the budget cuts the city is facing it should be tabled for at least a year,” Rich Pyzick wrote. “They’re talking about freezing or cutting wages which to me is not an option with the current crisis. Our city employees out in the streets are keeping our water flowing and our streets maintained so we can be fortunate enough to enjoy their efforts.”

Jerry Groebner wrote, “I don’t believe this is a good option. Mixing housing and business in the same district is not good planning. If the businesses start attracting a lot of traffic, it will be a problem for the kids and residents who want some peace and quiet. Running the street through there will also bring more traffic. I am most concerned about yet another multi-million dollar TIF development.”

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