Good Samaritan developer defends variance request in Kingfield

Developer Swervo, Inc. dropped its request to the city to upzone the former Good Samaritan nursing home, 4429 Nicollet Ave., from a 24-unit to a 38-unit housing development, but it will appear before the Zoning & Planning Committee April 1 seeking a variance which would allow 29 total units.

At a recent meeting held in Kingfield, Swervo, Inc. partner Ned Abdul said that if the company is granted the variance request, he envisions a 29-unit building that is a mix of 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments — an easier mix to manage and better for the neighborhood, he said, than the 4-bedroom apartments he would most likely build if the variance is not granted.

"It’s more beneficial to have a mix of 1-, 2- and 3-bedrooms with a single person who works Uptown, a couple who works downtown and working families, as opposed to 24 or 25 single mothers with three or four kids," he said. "It’s a more stable tenant mix as opposed to straight

4-bedroom units."

The Kingfield Neighborhood Association (KFNA) is concerned that the development will not have any affordable housing component. At its March board meeting, KFNA passed a resolution that any subsidized neighborhood housing development should rent at least 40 percent of its units at an affordable rate.

Abdul said, regardless of subsidies, he would be willing to make 20 percent of the units in the development affordable.

Many residents, however, said they are worried that the affordability component will not be maintained when Abdul, who said he is primarily a developer and not an owner-operator, sells the building.

"To rehab a building and put in families in 20 percent of the units who could then lose their housing is unacceptable to me as a neighborhood resident," one woman said.