A new kind of affordable housing gets Alexandria City Council's support
The project, "Twenty08 Apartments" has been awarded points for an “innovative construction technique” and is competing against two other properties in Minnesota for the tax credits, according to the developer.
A project to build 34 new affordable family apartments in Alexandria received the City Council’s support Monday, June 14, to receive tax credits from the state.
The development, which was previously known as Central Lakes II Apartments, is now called “Twenty08 Apartments.” The developer is D.W. Jones Inc.
The Alexandria Housing and Redevelopment Authority has been working with D.W. Jones to obtain tax credits for the housing project. This will be the fourth year they’re attempting to be funded by Minnesota Housing Finance.
"We don't give up easily," said Skip Duchesnau from D.W. Jones. "We're making another run at it."
The site is 2008 Runestone Ave., north of County Road 82 and west of Birch Avenue, adjacent to the existing Central Lakes Apartments that opened March 1, 2021, and were full in 65 days.
It’s a three-story building that includes 34 units ranging from one bedroom and one bath to three bedrooms and two baths. It would also have an attached 34-stall grade-level garage, an elevator, community room, community patio and playground for all residents.
The units feature private decks, patios, and a full appliance package, which includes dishwashers and in-unit washer and dryers.
As is the case with other affordable rental housing projects, four units will be designated for homeless families with supportive services provided from West Central Minnesota Communities Action, Inc.
Twenty08 has been awarded points for an “innovative construction technique” and is competing against two other properties in Minnesota for the tax credits, according to the developer.
D.W. Jones is working with the construction company, Rise Modular, on the Alexandria project. With Rise Modular, each project is unique and can be fully customized in looks, unit mix, unit size, and design, the developer said. The technique is also highly repeatable.
The developer said that Rise Modular buildings are often referred to as being like Legos. Once the Legos are designed, they can be plugged in and tweaked to fit a desired need. Modular construction lends itself to be a flat roof design.
“Because of this, we felt the project would not look like Central Lakes and needed a name change to fit the new design,” the developer said in a letter to the city.
The council’s resolution of support noted that there’s a need for affordable family housing in the city. A housing study adopted in 2019 concluded there’s a demand for new housing projects in Alexandria and specifically recommended the development of tax credit housing projects.
The city agreed to the developer's request for tax increment financing back in April 2019.
Council member Bill Franzen asked what the city's building department's reaction is to the modular construction. City Planner Mike Weber said they're "entranced by the idea" and had all of their questions answered.
"It's a very interesting process," Weber said. "Just plug and play."
Modular construction is very common throughout the world and may be the way to grow the U.S. construction industry, Duchesnau said. He said Rise Modular, which has projects in Minneapolis and St. Paul, hopes to build 1,000 units per year.
The big spike in lumber prices, however, has impacted modular construction, Duchesnau explained, because the technique uses about 60% more lumber than the more traditional process.
Modular projects only take about seven months to build, about four months quicker than other designs, Duchesnau said. If the tax credits are approved and everything goes right, he said the project could be completed in March or April of 2023.