The City of Big Lake has plenty of single family homes but an updated study by Maxfield Research, Inc. show the city is in need of some multi-family housing units, says City Planner Katie Larson.
Two projects which will break ground this fall will help to fill the needs of city residents, Larson says. Rental property is at a premium now, in part because of the economy.
“There is a need for 50-60 market rate rental units and for 20-24 senior housing units,” Larson said.
Cherrywood of Big Lake is described as an advanced living facility and will have 20 units for seniors and provide 20 jobs in the community.
An advanced living facility is a new concept, a step between assisted living and a nursing home, says Cherrywood spokesperson Marshall Weems.
“There will be 10 units on each side of a central great room,” Weems said. “Each side will have two staff so the ratio of staff to residents will be 5:1, which is far better than most nursing homes.”
The staff will be trained for universal care. They will assist as needed and cook and serve all the meals homestyle to suit the needs of their residents. Residents can keep their own physician and are encouraged to keep their contacts in the community.
“We want them to be able to stay a part of their community,” Weems said. “They can get help with the things they need and still maintain their friendships and activities.”
The Crossings of Big Lake is an affordable townhome development consisting of 33 units. John Duffy has been working on this project for the past four years, seeking financing from a variety of different sources.
Like the Cherrywood facility, The Crossings of Big Lake will be located near the railroad station for easy access to the NorthStar trains and buses. This area is also close to downtown within easy walking distance to the stores.
NorthStar is a definite plus, but it is not the reason we chose Big Lake for this project,” said Duffy. “We chose Big Lake because it is a strong community with jobs to offer in a great school district.” The Crossings of Big Lake is an affordable housing project but not subsidized housing. There are income guidelines and every resident must pass a stringent back ground check to live in the development.
“What typically happens in our other properties like this one is people come to town and live there for a couple of years, then almost always end up buying a home in the same school district,” said Duffy.
A third project still in the concept stages of planning is the market-rate Northern Star Apartment complex which will consist of 72 units.
“There will be two 36 unit buildings with room for a third to be built as demand increases,” said Larson.
This project would also be located near the railroad station and geared towards commuters who would take the train to work.
There are still no plans for ‘big box” commercial developments like Kmart or Target.
“Businesses say they need to see more rooftops to make retail work,” Larson said. “Which is why it was a good thing when the population of the city reached 10,000. We have been looking.”
Other commercial development underway in the city includes the new Holiday Station under construction at the intersection of Lake Street North and Highway 10.
The old store and the office building next door have been removed. Jim Zwilling and Kelli Riebel of American Family Insurance have moved their business to the office building next door. Enormous tanks to hold gasoline have been installed.
KleinBank is planning to break ground on their new building in 2012. Their facility will be located at the intersection of Co. Rd. 43 and Hwy 10, where the Big Lake American Legion used to be.
Concept plans for a rail park by the bridge over the tracks are still under negotiation, Larson said.
“We do get lots of inquiries about that,” Larson said. “But so far it is still in the planning stages.”
The Jerky Shop, located next to Lake Liquors, is also on schedule to open this fall, Larson said. They will make and sell jerky onsite.