Senior-housing developer wins council members overA month after being criticized by council, Jim Trucker got go-ahead to continue
By: Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages
A month ago, Jim Trucker sat before the Rosemount City Council and begged for time to put together financing for the senior living facility his company was chosen to build.
As the leader of Development Representation Associates, the firm chosen to build a senior living facility on the former St. Joseph School property, Trucker had a taken a lot of heat during a June work session for a lack of progress, and the city’s relationship with the developer seemed at a likely end.
On Tuesday Trucker returned to the council and exceeded their expectations. While he came before the council with a new team, Doran Companies, it was enough to keep the project.
“I do want to thank you guys very, very much for allowing us back here,” said Trucker at the beginning of the meeting.
Doran’s combination of reliable financing options, a solid reputation and its representative Bill Stoddard’s experience with senior living, kept the council on board.
“I personally am comfortable with Doran. They are a top notch developer in my mind. It’s a big step up from where we were a month ago,” said council member Matt Kearney.
This is Doran Companies’ first toe dip into senior living but they brought Stoddard to lead the effort and he has ample experience with senior building projects. Stoddard said he has developed and owned five senior living facilities similar to what Rosemount wants. While he has sold all but one, Stoddard said they are top notch centers. Additionally, Stoddard said he has been hired to consult on other senior projects.
“I’m new to Doran but not senior living,” Stoddard told the council.
Doran Companies plans to design, construct and manage the Rosemount senior facility. Going forward, Stoddard said the company hopes to build additional senior living facilities throughout the region.
Council member Jeff Weisensel was the most vocal in June about the delays. While he echoed his statements from last month that he was disappointed there was nothing in the ground yet, he seemed satisfied that Doran could and would build a senior living facility.
“I would offer that given the opportunity Mr. Trucker exceeded my expectations,” said Weisensel.
Last summer the city put out a request for qualifications for a developer to build a senior living facility in Rosemount. Three companies, DRA, Stonebridge Companies and Frisbee/Winkleman drafted proposals.
The council chose DRA because of its working relationship to the Ebenezer Management Services, a part of Fairview Health Services.
In the month since the council made the threat to Trucker, community development director Kim Lindquist had contacted the two other companies to see if they still had interest in the project if Trucker didn’t deliver.
Stonebridge Companies owner Wally Johnson attended the July 17 meeting and made a brief presentation on his company’s proposal. Since last year when the council interviewed the three companies, Stonebridge has built four senior living facilities including one in Inver Grove Heights and will start a fifth soon.
Johnson told the council the company would like the opportunity to do another project in Rosemount.
“We love Rosemount. We liked the project we did here. We’d love to repeat it,” said Johnson, referring to the Waterford Commons project.
While the council chose to go with Doran Companies and Trucker, it wasn’t without regret.
Weisensel said after looking back he wished they would have considered the Stonebridge proposal more. Mayor Bill Droste echoed that sentiment.
“I hate to say it but we made a mistake,” said Droste.
Despite the regret the council moved forward with Doran Companies. City staff will work with the company on a contract.
Stoddard told the council they will do their best to move forward quickly.
During the discussion, Doran presented a concept design to the council that included a 26,000 sq. ft., 80 unit facility. Stoddard said they will need time to create a more robust plan. He added that the company will engage the community on the project. He anticipated it will take six to eight months to get things in order.
“A senior living facility needs to be here,” Stoddard told the council.
While they chose Doran, the council gave a stern warning that they expect better management and in the end get a facility built.
“We expect a lot of interaction going forward,” said Droste.