Global Mercantile & Associates have updated their latest proposal in regards to the redevelopment of the former St. John's Hospital.

Developers will be taking the proposal for review at a hearing before the Red Wing Advisory Planning Commission on July 16. The commission will be discussing the hot-button issue and making recommendations on the proposal.

Over the course of this meeting and a second meeting - on July 22 - Red Wing city officials will determine whether to issue a conditional-use permit for the remodeling to begin.

The proposal and its updates

The development group proposes to remodel the old hospital into a 102-unit affordable apartment complex. The revised plan also includes a 160-stall parking lot with available on-street parking. Previously the plan included a three-story parking ramp on the south end of the property, but this has been eliminated due to push back by neighbors.

The updated proposal incorporates a playground after neighbors expressed their concern about the lack of green space and play space. The playground will be funded by the project, but will be dedicated to the city to make it available to the neighborhood.

The city of Red Wing sent out a public hearing notice containing a packet of information put together by the developers addressing some of the West End residents' concerns.

Economic concerns

For some, there is concern about what the word affordable means.

According to documents provided by the development team, the project is intended to provide market-rate housing for working individuals and families. The developers say they will not be seeking funding for Section 8 housing. A one-bedroom, one-bath unit rent is estimated to cost about $990 a month.

According to the information provided by David Pokorney of Community Asset Development Group, "The units will be general occupancy, market rate with a minimum of 40% of the units meeting the definition of 'affordable'. Affordable is defined as affordable to two person households with income of $37,320 or $42,000 for a family of 3 person based on 2018 data."

Neighbors are concerned about their property values going down. This concern was not addressed in the documentation provided by the developers.

Increased traffic

Some residents opposed to the proposal say the remodel will increase traffic. In the public notice, Global Mercantile acknowledges that increased traffic is likely when compared to the site's present state, but argues it will be less than when the site was operating as a hospital.

Using data from the Institute of Traffic Engineers, Pokorney cited estimates for the number of daily traffic trips from an apartment versus a hospital. The apartments estimate is 678 daily trips whereas a hospital is generally around 2,227 daily trips. Although the group admits these are just estimates.

The opposition says the redevelopment would create competition for the parking and they are concerned about the extra safety hazards additional traffic will pose.

Alternatives to housing plan

Those opposed to the proposal say alternative redevelopment options for the site should be explored. In fact, this was one of the requests of a petition they said 75 households signed.

One suggestion is that the old St. John's Hospital should be torn down and developed into a temporary green space, while alternative options for the site are discussed.

But Global Mercantile and associates say this option is not economically viable.

The next steps

The Red Wing Advisory Planning Commission will hold a hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, in the City Hall Council Chambers. The developers and the public will have the chance to speak their mind and share their concerns. The Advisory Planning Commission is expected to make a recommendation to the City Council, which will meet at 6 p.m. July 22.