A proposed Hastings senior housing development would bring 90 low-income units to the area.

Real Estate Equities, a St. Paul-based housing developer, proposed a 117,000-square-foot development in between Schoolhouse Square retail center and several townhomes on Ramsey Street. The proposal comes as housing projections show demand for senior housing now and into the future.

“We’re still doing some more internal market research but we do feel that in Hastings, as with all communities, there’s a growing aging population ... that doesn't necessarily want to leave,” said Patrick Ostrom, a development partner with Real Estate Equities.

The proposal includes under and above ground parking, one-and-two bedroom units, and various amenities like a fitness room and a rooftop patio, he said.

The unit's rent would be set at 60% of the area's median income for household size. The size of each unit would be 723 square feet for a one-bedroom and range from 1,000-1,143 square feet for a two-bedroom unit.

The developers have yet to bring the development officially to city staff and council, but hope to do so within 60 to 75 days, Ostrom said. If approved, Real Estate Equities would then acquire the property and hope to start construction by late 2020 and open the following year.

At a neighborhood meeting Oct. 1, some residents expressed worries over the impact on traffic and Real Estate Equities staff members said they would look into ways to mitigate those issues.

"I think the meeting went well. They had a couple of things, like there always is," Ostrom said. "Hopefully it's something we can work with."

A Real Estate Equities staff member details the floor plan at a Hastings neighborhood meeting Oct, 1, 2019. David Clarey / RiverTown Multimedia
A Real Estate Equities staff member details the floor plan at a Hastings neighborhood meeting Oct, 1, 2019. David Clarey / RiverTown Multimedia

The development's site has a recent history of on-and-off again development plans. Schoolhouse Square owner Pat Regan attended the meeting and detailed two previous housing proposals he spearheaded — one for 58 condominiums and another for a 74-unit senior housing cooperative — but were unable to move forward.

The open site has always been pegged by the city for a housing development and the nearby townhome owners acknowledged the adjacent site's likely housing development when purchasing, said John Hinzman, the city's community development director.

Council members have been in support of increased senior housing in the community and some market research shows that there's a need, with potentially even more demand after this development.

"We think it would be a good project for the city there," he said.

Schoolhouse Square with its several available leases, would benefit from the development as well, Regan said at the meeting.

“We’ve sat on the project waiting for someone to come along,” he said. “We decided to go ahead with them and we like their idea.”

Throughout the county and in Hastings there's an increased need for senior housing as people have started to live longer, said Kari Gill, the Dakota County Community Development Agency's deputy executive director.

The Dakota County CDA already operates two senior housing buildings in Hastings and more throughout the county, she said. Waitlist times for the organization's roughly 350 units in Hastings can stretch 1-3 years, said Sara Swenson, the CDA's director of administration and communications.

That's led to increased interest from developers like Real Estate Equities — whom the CDA has worked with on prior developments.

"We've seen the [private developments] that have been opening, they're filling up quickly," Gill said. "We're surprised at how quickly they're leasing out those new buildings."