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Company chosen to build senior facility on thin ice

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Company chosen to build senior facility on thin ice
Rosemount Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

The company chosen to build a senior living complex on the former St. Joseph's School site has until July 11 to come up with a letter from a lender that indicates the necessary capital to build the project or Development Representation Associates are out.

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If it were up to councilmember Jeff Weisensel, the struggling company would have been dropped like a "lead balloon" already. But the other three council members at the Wednesday night work session were a little more forgiving. Council member Kim Shoe-Corrigan was absent.

DRA representative Jim Trucker attended the work session to essentially beg that the city stick with his group for the project. Trucker explained to the council that financing for the project had fallen through and that he was working to secure funding elsewhere. He explained that the original finance person had been let go and that bad information from the United States Department of Agriculture had led to the troubles. The USDA has a loan program that Trucker believed the project was eligible for but it was not.

Trucker said he had nine possible investors but needed time to secure one. He then asked for a six month extension. The company was given a deadline of May 31 to make progress before the council reassessed the project.

"I still stand here willing to finish what I started," said Trucker.

Community development director Kim Lindquist said after DRA missed the May 31 deadline, she talked with the other two companies that had been considered for the project last August and both indicated that they would be interested in building the senior facility. The other two development teams are Stonebridge Companies and Winkelman Building Corporation with Frisbie Architects.

"We want to keep moving things along," said Lindquist of speaking with the other companies.

Trucker said he did not know city staff was going to talk with the other companies and felt the move was underhanded.

"If you're going to ax me, ax me for a good reason," Trucker told the council.

Weisensel said the failure to produce financing was a good reason. He added that the group had shown bad project management in their failures.

"The risk in your plan wasn't managed," Weisensel told Trucker. He added that there was no plan presented during the meeting that warranted an extension.

Mayor Bill Droste also expressed distrust with the company but said the council should give DRA some sort of extension. Councilmember Matt Kearney suggested giving the company 30 days to come up with a letter from a lender.

The council also instructed Lindquist to contact the other two companies and explain the situation to them.

Weisensel said if the other two companies are paying attention, they would consider having proof of financing at the meeting as well. The council will review the issue at the July 11 work session.

Background

After putting out a Request for Qualifications last summer, the city council chose DRA because of their partnership with Ebenezer Management Services, a part of Fairview Health Services. In January the council approved a preliminary layout of the facility.

As part of the RFQ each development team had to prove their financial ability to pay for the project but Trucker said DRA's financing plan, which including funding through the United States Department of Agriculture, fell through.

The council wants a senior living facility built on 2.56 acres adjacent to the Steeple Center. The property currently holds the former St. Joseph's School building. The school will be razed in the coming weeks to make way for the project. The city received a Community Development Agency grant to help pay for the demolition.

A market study showed there is a need for a senior living facility in the area. Currently there is only one assisted living facility in Rosemount and it has a long waiting list.

"We are losing people to other town because this facility isn't built," Weisensel said.

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Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
(651) 460-6606
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