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Woodbury Defers Opening Phase 2 For Development

‘Complexities’ of infrastructure work and desire to fill existing lots prompts move; one developer says his company is anxious to get started.

Woodbury has decided to defer opening the southeast area of town for development as it works through infrastructure issues and hopes to have existing lots built out.

The city has had plenty of interest from developers regarding the Phase 2 area, which is generally south and east of , according to Community Development Director Dwight Picha. The Woodbury City Council discussed the latest plans at .

Issues with extending Pioneer Drive south—and the city’s desire to have lots in the Dancing Waters and Stonemill Farms neighborhoods built out—prompted the decision to delay development in Phase 2.

Picha said the city will continue with plans and specifications for the infrastructure improvements—which also include Dale Road updates and a —and will likely re-evaluate opening the area for development in the summer or fall.

The city would like to have several housing projects ready to go when it does decide to open Phase 2 for development, Picha said.

For Mike DeVoe, president of Ryland Homes, that can’t come soon enough. His company has plans to develop 40 acres in the northern part of Phase 2.

“There’s definitely demand in Woodbury. … We’re anxious to move forward,” he said, adding that Ryland Homes would like to begin developing the area this spring.

Sales of non-distressed homes have stabilized, DeVoe said. “Demand has been picking up and is pretty steady.”

“We think that the time is right,” he said.

City Administrator Clint Gridley compared the situation to opening a new business—it makes sense to have everything ready at one time rather than doing things in pieces.

“We’re not quite ready to go,” he said, adding that a delay will also give the city a better sense of how the economic recovery is proceeding.

The city has run into “complexities” with grading and groundwater for the Pioneer Drive extension, City Engineer Klayton Eckles said. The city would also like to have concept plans from developers to get a better sense of where intersections will be sited along the new roadway.

Council members informally supported four recommendations from staff:

  • Defer opening the Fields of Woodbury (sub-phase 2A) for development at this time based on a review of the lot inventory, economic data and developer activity. Staff recommends that the council re-evaluate opening the sub-phase in summer or fall.
  • Continue planning and design for Pioneer Drive and related utilities working with the development community, analyzing alternatives and preparing plans and specifications.
  • Send a letter of support to Cottage Grove for its Jamaica Avenue and Military Road funding request. 
  • Continue planning for development of the Fields of Woodbury (sub-phase 2A) through review of concept plans. 

“It’s maintaining our flexibility but still being committed to the project,” Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said.

Eric Berg January 19, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Good call on waiting. A bunch of half-built subdivisions does no one any good...not the residents (who will have to sit though longer periods of construction as the lots slowly get built), not the developers (who face a longer time for return on their investment), nor the city (more vacant lot code enforcement complaints.) Not even sure it does someone in the market any good because then they'll be buying a house in the midst of vacant lots. Kris, did they say that they were looking for complete buildout of Dancing Waters and Stonemill or just a certain percentage of buildout? If its complete buildout, we might not see development anywhere else for a long period of time because some lots just don't sell and/or it might not be as convenient for a homebuyer to live on the extreme eastern edge of town (if they work someplace like Bloomington or Eden Prairie). I've worked for a city where the political leaders didn't think ahead like this. It was a pain in the tucchus.
Mark Wackerfuss January 19, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Eric, I agree. Good call by the city council. It does not make much sense to open up new areas for development until we have a strong base to build upon. A strong base meaning fewer vacant properties and a reduction in vacant existing lots around other parts of Woodbury. Woodbury should continue planning and preparing for the future but not at the expense of existing folks and businesses that have already invested in this community.
Kris Janisch January 19, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Eric, I can't recall if they want it completely built out, but they said a certain percentage of open lots is healthy—they just don't want it to get to high. But it sounds like it's just going to be delayed a few months. Staff told council about six months ago that they'd have a recommendation early in the year, so there you have it.
Matthew Johnson January 19, 2012 at 10:30 PM
At the Woodbury City Update in December Karl Batalden shared some stats with us about the # of foreclosure filings down and how vacant lots are starting to dwindle. I was surprised by this information but there is a huge demand for more senior friendly housing that needs to be addressed quickly. I am already seeing some clients move to other communities with better options for their needs.
Eric Berg January 19, 2012 at 10:36 PM
It's going to be interesting seeing them try to find the "sweet spot" on that number of open lots. Looking at the Lot Inventory Report, it looks like 131 multifamily lots and 409 single family lots available. I'm not exactly sure if this number includes stuff that's in the pipeline, but not far enough along to be final platted, but it appears to be just under the 600 or so permits that they like to issue per year. I'm thinking that there must be something within areas that already have infrastructure that's ready to come online soon, because so much of this Phase 2 stuff is going to require some pretty significant infrastructure investments and that doesn't come quickly. Been wrong before. If you listen to my daughter, I've been wrong often...but she's 10, so she's only seen me be wrong, never right.
Matthew Johnson January 19, 2012 at 10:50 PM
That last thing we would want to see was the 1998 to 2002 jump in prices due to the moratorium on building with the sewage treatment situation. Interesting is right Eric!
Eric Berg January 19, 2012 at 10:54 PM
I'm afraid that I missed that as I was contributing to urban sprawl in suburban St. Louis until the spring of 2002. (2,500+ new homes per year in the city that employed me) I always wondered why prices here were about $100K above a comparable in St. Louis...Makes sense now.
Matthew Johnson January 19, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Yeah I purchased a town home in 2002 that was built for almost $50,000 less in 1998 by a production builder with NO changes other than paint color and well... we all know how much value that adds!
Matt February 04, 2012 at 01:38 AM
I don't live in Woodbury anymore, but this makes the location of East Ridge HS make a lot more sense now. I agree that they should play it slow, there is still a surplus of housing in Woodbury and throughout the metro. With so many foreclosed homes on the market and a renewed desire to live closer to the core (or just closer to anything) they should hold off on this for several years.
kk April 18, 2012 at 10:50 PM
I personally am looking forward to development in that part of town. Hoping the design is much like liberty on the lake with a little main street...sidewalks, etc. I would move from dancing waters for that.
kk April 19, 2012 at 04:22 PM
I am very much looking forward to develooment in that part of woodbury and as a resident and homeowner her for 17 years, i am hoping they do so as soon as possible. I am hoping the fesign will be much like liberty on the lake in stillwater with a main street, sidewalks, surrounding a ballpark/community center. I would move from dancing waters for a community like that! Thank you!
Tina Meyers October 04, 2012 at 02:01 PM
I agree with KK. I'm hoping that the developers take some time in planning this phase 2 development and make some "space" in the new subdivisions. We don't need another area with houses right on top of each other. I love the homes in Dancing Waters and Stonemill Farms, and love the concept, but everytime I drive in there to look at homes for the possibility of moving, I get claustrophobic. It's all eye clutter to me with no privacy. This isn't China for Pete sake. We don't need to build houses on top of each other. The country is beautiful on the East side of town, I hope they don't screw it up with packing the homes in.I realize the developers need to get the most bang for their buck, but maybe some of these lots in DW and SF would be taken if it wasn't so crowded in there.
Kris Janisch October 04, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Tina, just making sure you saw the update on this. The city will soon open up a part of Phase 2 for development. http://patch.com/A-xVBK

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