There is a great deal of community interest in the proposed Paulson Project, also known as the Kraewood Development. I write today with information from the development team point of view, which will hopefully also dispel any misinformation that has been shared.
The Paulson family has owned the 12-acre, private property, since 1934 when the entire area was bare and undeveloped. Their property began as a vegetable farm and from tree plantings became the Paulson Christmas Tree Farm until much of the Christmas trees were harvested and the family ended the business. The current owners, Rieber and Ginny Paulson and their nephews Kai and Kris, wish to sell the property and complete the development which has surrounded the property through the years.
There are three developers partnering and collaborating on the project. Two of the developers are native Northfielders – Steve Schmidt and me, Brett Reese, along with Nate Stencil who was a partner and contractor of the newly completed 5th Street Lofts apartment in downtown Northfield. The plan is to bring a variety of housing types to the Northfield community which would include:
• 22 single-family homes
• two twin homes
• one fourplex
• one 100-unit apartment building
On Sept. 21, the Northfield City Council will be voting on the preliminary plat for the Kraewood Development, which was approved by a vote of 6-1 by the Planning Commission on Aug. 19.
Some facts and information to share and consider on the project:
• The property is zoned N2 which allows for the above types of housing.
• The development meets the requirements of the City of Northfield Comprehensive Plan, Land Code and Strategic Plan- including the important points of density, infill, affordability, and connectivity.
• The development allows approximately 130 families the opportunity to “move up” in housing status and make a positive impact on their lives.
• There is a tremendous need for apartment living. A 2021 city housing study showed a .4% occupancy rate. The 5th Street Lofts was 100% leased upon opening and has a 100+ waiting list. There are no residential, single family lots for sale west of Hwy. 3.
• Tree Preservation: The property is not a “forest.” That term applies to national parks, nature reserves, protected areas. There were no trees on property when Paulson’s acquired the land. The project meets the city of Northfield tree preservation guideline. Deeper single-family lots provide additional opportunity for existing tree preservation.
• The carbon footprint of an apartment is roughly half of a single-family home; apartments help offset additional carbon of a home.
• Traffic: Multiple traffic studies have been completed and supported by city staff that indicate the project has a negligible effect on the traffic in the area and that the roads can handle any additional traffic; Developers will work with the city and school district to install any lighted crossings.
• Rusty Patch Bumble Bee: The US Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that critical habitat is not warranted for the rusty patch bumble bee. The bee is a habitat generalist finding needed areas including prairies, woodland marshes and agricultural. There is no documentation nor any sightings by the owners that the property contains the bee. The development will have open spaces, retention areas and plantings with specific pollinator-friendly perennial species recommended by the U of M extension and Bee Lab.
• The development will offer open space and a dedicated park land of .66 acres.
• Tax Increment Financing is applied for to assist in offering affordable rents on the apartments. Affordable rents: $848-$1,075 for studio- to two-bedroom units (TIF covers rent difference between market and afford rates). Forty of the 100 apartments affordable (available to families at 60% of AMI). Market rate rent is $950-$1,450 for studio- to two-bedroom units.
• Economic driver:Current property taxes= $3,636 per year. Future tax capacity potential of development: $350,000 less TIF of approximately $125,000 per year for 20 years = net of $250,000 in property taxes per year.
Everybody is entitled to their opinion and there many opinions on this development project. We wanted to share our development team’s point of view to address any misinformation and provide facts for those forming opinions.
For us, the bottom-line summary is that the sellers wish to sell their land, the land is zoned for the proposed uses. Northfield needs housing, families want a quality place to live and we want to be inclusive and accepting.