The new Park Row Crossing housing development could be up and move-in ready in as few as 12 months, the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership announced Oct. 10.

During Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony, the partnership’s CEO Rick Goodeman said he expects families will be able to move into the new townhomes by next October. The development is expected to attract young families with children.

“We’re pleased and very excited to be ground breaking on our third rental community, our fifth project in St. Peter,” Goodeman said.

The Park Row Crossing Townhomes will be located on the site of the former St. Peter Hospital and Nursing Home at 621 and 625 Park Row Street. They will be within easy walking distance of Gorman Park, the St. Peter Community Center and the downtown.

The project itself, which received approval from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency last October, has qualified for $652,686 in housing credits.

The credits are federal income tax credits to owners and investors in the construction of eligible rental housing. Housing must meet income and rent restrictions for a minimum of 30 years.

Current gross rent limits range from $693 for a one-bedroom unit and $962 for a three-bedroom unit, according to the Minnesota Finance Agency.

The development will consist of two buildings and will contain two one-bedroom handicap accessible units, 29 two-bedroom units, three one-bedroom units and six three-bedroom units.

It will be managed by Lloyd Management, which manages two other Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership developments, Central Square Apartments and Nicollet Meadows Townhomes.

The Park Crossing units are now available for pre-leasing, though final rental rates are to be decided.

Present at the Oct. 10 groundbreaking ceremony was Mary Tingerhal, commissioner of the finance agency and part of the team that picked the Park Row project for the tax credit program.

She praised St. Peter’s “steady but robust” commitment to affordable housing, and expressed excitement over the new development.

“This [project] just squeaked onto the list ahead of some of those bigger cities and I think it did have a lot to do with the spirit of this community and how it shined through,” she said.

Mayor Tim Strand said during the ceremony that the development has not only created opportunities for local contractors, but will draw renters to St. Peter.

“The investment in our community will be well over $7 million and will provide housing for 40 families,” he said.

The development answers needs identified in the city’s latest housing study, he said. Affordable, rental housing for young families is something St. Peter is short on, according to the study.

But Eileen Holz, who came to the groundbreaking to protest the new development, said the project falls short.

She held a sign that said “We need 2-bedroom accessible housing in St. Peter and this project is not meeting that need!.”

Her complaint echoed those made by several community members who attended an open house about the project in March.

They claimed that the new development was discriminatory because it will not include two-bedroom ADA units.

Holz said that the Park Row property, one of few sites available for development and within walking distance of the downtown, would have been an ideal site for handicap accessible housing.

“I think we need two-bedroom either universally-built or accessibly-built units in St. Peter,” Holz said. “… They did a great job with the Community Center, but you can’t live in the Community Center. This was a prime spot.”

Reach reporter Jessica Bies at 507-931-8568 or follow her on Twitter.com @sphjessicabies

Reach reporter Jessica Bies at 507-931-8568 or follow her on Twitter.com @sphjessicabies