Go Ahead and Ponder That New Hope
By Andrew Richter
There really is no hope for New Hope
After receiving a proposal to construct a market rate apartment complex at 8400 Bass Lake Road, New Hope City Council is questioning the future of the property. The city-owned property next to New Hope Village Golf Course is a prime location for redevelopment. It previously housed the Bass Lake Road Apartments, but New Hope acquired the property in 2008. The deteriorating structure was demolished and left as an open lot. The city saw several interested developers at the time and ultimately chose one to move forward. After discovering poor soils under the site, the project cost increased and the housing market collapsed shortly thereafter. The development quickly fell through, and the lot has sat vacant ever since.
And you wonder why I think government should stay out of the real estate business.
Now that the housing market and economy have bounced back, New Hope developers have expressed interest in the property again. Gary Brummer and Fred Stelter hope to construct an apartment building with underground parking known as Meadow Lake Apartments. Although New Hope staff and council would like to see the lot redeveloped, neither group is certain a market rate apartment is the best use. In early May, staff questioned what other uses the council may want at that site. Answers varied from luxury apartments and single-family homes to a sports dome and senior living facility.
Luxury apartments? A sports dome?
Based on council’s interest, staff plans to seek developers who can create those options and bring their ideas to a future council meeting. In the meantime, staff believes the city should conduct additional soil borings in an effort to learn more about the level of contamination of the property. Seven soil borings have already been completed on the site – three when the city acquired the property and four more when the previous developer showed interest in the lot. However, there was no technology at the time to pinpoint where exactly the soil borings were. “Developers will tell us what they think they can do at this site,” said Community Development Specialist Aaron Chirpich. “The soil borings will let us know what we actually can do.”
Unlike the Centra Homes development, which involved a purchase price reduction after the developer discovered poor soils, staff wants to be sure the city knows what it is offering to a developer upfront. Two vendors provided bids to complete eight more soil borings on site. American Engineering and Testing Inc.’s cost for soil borings came in at $11,700 whereas Braun Intertec’s would cost the city $9,490.
Ain’t it boring paying for borings?
Staff believed both companies would provide the work and information needed and inevitably recommended choosing Braun Intertec due to the lower bid. Braun Intertec is also familiar with the site from previous contract work with the city and developer.
Councilmember Jonathan London questioned why the seven existing soil borings were completed in the first place. He did not agree that the city should pay more money to have additional soil borings done when the developer may complete his own soil borings later. “I think you market the property, bring in what you can and then see what can be done,” he said. The rest of the council disagreed, believing the additional soil borings were necessary before moving forward. Staff will return with soil boring results as soon as they are available.
We wait great anticipation!