The Arden Hills development project known as Rice Creek Commons may add an additional 500 housing units to the 427-acre property.
The former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant parcel, which was bought in 2013 by Ramsey County, will be redeveloped to include business, retail and a proposed 1,960 housing units, said Kari Collins, director of community and economic development for the county.
The goal for the sprawling development is a cohesive mix of residential and commercial neighborhoods surrounding a town center. The additional 500 units would be constructed in the southwest neighborhood and the southern part of the town center, according to a September presentation given by Alatus, the project’s developer.
Housing density was a previous sore spot for the project as the city wanted fewer housing units and the county wanted more.
“Through exploration in 2023, we feel the site is ready to accommodate 1,960 homes to be more accommodating to the housing needs the region is facing right now,” Collins said.
The Rice Creek Commons project is led by the Joint Development Authority, a delicate partnership composed of elected officials from Ramsey County and Arden Hills that began meeting again this year for the first time since 2019.
“The JDA is very supportive of increased housing,” said Dave Perrault, Arden Hills city administrator. While there are some residents who oppose increased housing, Perrault said he felt a majority of those who attended a Nov. 1 open house were supportive of the plan.
The proposed housing units at Rice Creek Commons would run the gamut from apartment units to townhomes for both rental and ownership, as well as single-family homes, Collins said, including units that are considered affordable for people below the area median income. The median income for a four-person household in the metro area is $124,900, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Affordable housing is one of the goals for the project, Collins said, noting that the county “feels confident that we will be able to hit a critical mass of housing infrastructure available at a range of affordability.”
There is still much to be decided for the future of Rice Creek Commons, including an upcoming request of $25 million from the state legislature for the installation of a spine road that will pave the way for development. The spine road is the main road that will run through Rice Creek Commons, connecting County Highway 96 on the south end of the development to Interstate 35W at the northern end.
The next JDA meeting is scheduled for Dec. 4, Collins said, where the members will work to put together terms for a future development agreement.
Completion of the project, in a perfect world Perrault said, would be about 15 years from now.