Construction is underway on a 62-unit, market rate apartment development on the southeast corner of Jefferson Road and Honey Locust Drive.

Northfield City Planner Mikayla Schmidt said Timberfield Apartments includes two-bedroom and three-bedroom units and will not be geared toward a specific age group.

A building permit for the project was approved April 29. The apartments are expected to be behind Target and near the Northfield Area Family YMCA.

Schmidt said she is unsure of when the project will be completed.

“We know rental vacancy is very, very low, so we are excited to have this type of housing for the community,” Schmidt said.

The project is being developed by Brainerd-based Kuepers Inc.

Housing need persists

Several other projects to address the need for housing within the community are taking place on the city’s southeast side, including 23 residential lots of the final phase of the Hills of Spring Creek, 46 units tailored for seniors within the first phase of Bluff View development and 32 units as part of the second phase of Spring Creek Townhomes.

Northfield Realtors have said mitigating factors for development include a lack of new construction in Northfield since the mortgage crisis began in 2007. A lot of local land has been developed, and there haven’t been substantial new development opportunities. Officials have consistently said the housing supply needs to grow to spark community growth.

According to a 2019 Minnesota Housing Partnership study analyzing Rice County’s rental situation, the local housing stock, along with the supply of the entire state, is not keeping up with demand and is undermining economic development and prosperity of many communities, and worsening housing disparities for seniors and households of color.

The study found many Rice County jobs don’t pay enough ($56,520 annually) to afford a median-value home or even a two-bedroom apartment ($35,280 annually. Of the 3,383 owner-occupied homes within the county, the Minnesota Housing Partnership found more than 2,300 had either cost-burdened senior owners or severely cost-burdened owners of any age.

The study found rent costs from 2000-17 increased 8% while income decreased 26%. During the same time, median home values increased 7% while income dropped 2%. According to the organization, 77% of white households were homeowners, while only 45% of people of color households had achieved that status.

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115. © Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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