The western entrance to Golden Valley from Highway 55 isn't much to brag about. Just ask Golden Valley City Planner Joe Hogeboom.
"Under–utilized property right now, not a lot of action happening here," he said.
An empty storefront and a vacant bowling alley are two of the most prominent features on the northern side of the highway.
"The Golden Valley sign on Highway 55 is just across the highway, so if you look there you see our sign," Hogeboom said. "If you look [north from Hwy 55] you see an abandoned building."
But if a local development group gets its way, that area north of Hwy 55 will be the site of "The Tiburon," a six–story, 142–unit apartment complex aimed at young professionals. Rent would be market rates, which could be about $1,000 a month for a one-bedroom studio apartment.
"There's a need," Hogeboom said of the apartment complex. "We have a lot of campuses, corporate campuses in this general area, and so we think there'd be a need."
The project is still in the planning stages, but Hogeboom says things are moving in the right direction. On Tuesday, the Golden Valley City Council approved zoning charges for the project. It now enters the Planned Unit Development phase, a process that could take another four months.
The project is one example of an improving picture in Twin Cities housing construction.
"We're on pace to do a little over 8,000 [housing] units this year," said Dave Siegel, executive director of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. "So that gives you an example of the dramatic change moving forward."
Siegel says the usual number of new housing units built each year is about 11,000, so things aren't quite back to normal, but they're happy to see the turnaround.
"We've got several months in a row now where we can say these numbers are continuing to rise," Siegel added. "You're not so sure when you get a month up and a month down, but we've had enough of a consistent pattern that I think we can say pretty confidently that we're on the recovery."
Golden Valley city planners, meanwhile, have also seen an upswing in permit applications.
"We're seeing a huge upswing this fall and late summer," Hogeboom said. "So I think the permitting office will get a huge upswing come spring."
If approved, construction on the Tiburon apartment complex could also start this spring.
"There's a lot of excitement around putting that type of product here on this site," Hogeboom said.
Sept. 6, 2012