Revised Bryn Mawr plans put focus on seniors

senior apartment buildings
Developers Steve Minn and Ned Abdul are planning to build a pair of six-story, 100-unit senior apartment buildings at the former CenturyLink campus in Bryn Mawr. Rendering courtesy of UrbanWorks Architecture

A pair of Minneapolis developers have updated their plans to remake the former CenturyLink campus in Bryn Mawr, far more than doubling the number of units devoted to seniors.

Steve Minn of Lupe Development and Ned Abdul of Swervo Development plan on building two six-story, 100-unit senior apartment buildings, including one that’s exclusively for people with incomes below a certain threshold. Together, the buildings will occupy the west side of the 8.3-acre site, which includes a vacant 100,000-square-foot office building flanked by surface parking lots. Abdul currently owns the entire site.

Abdul has independent plans to construct an assisted-living facility on the site’s east side and to renovate the office building that sits in the center of the property, according to the City Planning Commission packet on the project. (Minn said that Abdul has talked with another developer about collaborating on the assisted-living project.)

The new plans come before the Committee of the Whole about a year after Minn and Abdul first pitched affordable family housing and market-rate senior housing for the campus.

Minn said they revised the plans to include exclusively senior housing in part because of the large number of retirees in Bryn Mawr. He said many households in the neighborhood earn too much to qualify for income-restricted housing.

“I can’t tell you how many people have gone to monthly meetings and at the end of the meeting have said, ‘You’ve got one reserved for me, right?’” he said.

Bryn Mawr site

The building will utilize a new 2018 federal law that changed the low-income housing tax credit program.

Previously, families with incomes between 60% and 80% of the area median did not count toward a project’s affordability.

The 2018 law allows developments to qualify for the tax credits by renting units to families whose incomes are up to 80% of the area median, provided the collective average building income stays at or below 60% of the area median, which is $56,580 for a family of four in the Twin Cities.

“It gives us a lot more flexibility,” Minn said.

The market-rate building will be open to people over 62, and the affordable building will be open to people over 55, Minn said. The units in both buildings will be a mix of one-bedrooms, one-bedroom-plus-dens and two-bedrooms.

Amenities will include a shared underground parking garage, gardens and a new public path with pedestrian lighting on the north side, Minn said. He said the project would probably include a greenhouse.

Kevin Thompson, president of the Bryn Mawr Neighborhood Association, said the project fulfills one of the association’s goals from a land-use plan, which was to incorporate senior housing into the neighborhood.

Board member Chris Etz said there are a lot of neighbors who have spent most of their lives living in Bryn Mawr and who are ready to downsize or are looking for a house without maintenance.

“Generally, some of the neighbors are pretty in favor of it, because they say, ‘This is a way for me to sell my house but stay in the neighborhood as I age,’” Etz said. “We don’t really have a lot of options like that here.”