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Newport considers supported apartment development

Zumbro House is considering a 200-unit building at 2300 Hastings Ave. Imagery ©2018 Google, Map data ©2018 Google

Zumbro House has made a preliminary proposal for a supported-living apartment building on the north end of the city.

The company is looking at Newport to build a 200-unit three-story, market rate apartment building at 2300 Hastings Ave — and in a second phase, a 7,000-square-foot retail center.

Zumbro House properties across the Twin Cities metro area have served individuals with mental disabilities and mental illness since 2001. The apartments considered for Newport are for individuals who can manage an apartment on their own, but need assistance with some tasks.

"We want it to be an integrated setting," owner Christopher Onken said. "We're not trying to create an institution here in Newport, we're trying to create an apartment complex where we can provide some supports to people who need it."

There will be about 20 people on staff 24-hours a day, he said.

Onken said the company currently serves about 130 residents, and that "the market is well beyond what we can serve." The apartment building would more than double the number of individuals they can house.

Residents applying for Zumbro House generally have lower medical needs and behavioral needs, he said.

"There's a pretty thorough screening process for every soul that we serve ... If there's any behaviors that we believe are beyond what we think we can manage, we're going to decline that individual," Onken said.

The development would also include some retail elements, both inside and outside the apartment building.

The preliminary plan is to have community gathering space and cafe-type uses inside the building for residents. They are also considering a detached retail area for public use.

"This is going to be our first venture into developing non-existing supported apartments," Onken said. "All of the apartments that we've done previous to now have been retrofitted existing market-rate apartments where we've done conversion into what we needed. This is going to be an opportunity for us to develop something that is going to really suit our needs and the tenants' needs better than a retrofitted 1962 building."

The estimated cost for the project is over $20 million.

The development would be "fairly isolated and bordered," Onken said, by the highway, cemetery and slope, with one small residential area to the south.

The Woodbury-based company looked at places in Cottage Grove and Maplewood before finding the right-sized location for the project, Onken said.

The parcel will also have to be rezoned. The site is currently zoned for business/warehouse, and would need to be switched to mixed use.

The company presented preliminary plans to City Council at the Jan. 4 meeting. They will bring the proposal to a planning commission meeting before returning to the council with more definitive plans.

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