Developers, city officials break ground on North St. Paul senior housing


The North St. Paul City Council and city staff ceremonially break ground on the 114-unit Polar Ridge Senior Living Community, construction of which started in late October. (photos by Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

Roger Fink, senior vice president at Trident Development, which is building the Polar Ridge Senior Living Community along with Helen Street Senior Housing, LLC, helps ceremonially break ground on a 114-unit senior housing project on Thursday in North St. Paul.

Roger Fink, senior vice president at Trident Development, which is building the Polar Ridge Senior Living Community along with Helen Street Senior Housing, LLC, emceed a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday morning, which included the facility owners and the North St. Paul City Council.

North St. Paul Mayor Mike Kuehn, right, and Sylvia and Sam Kaplan, the principal owners of the Polar Ridge Senior Living Community, ceremonially break ground on the 114-unit complex, construction of which started in late October.

Rev. Basil Owen, a chaplain at a Woodbury senior living campus, recites a blessing at a groundbreaking on Thursday in North St. Paul for the developers, those construction the two buildings and those who will live and work in Polar Ridge Senior Living Community when it's built.
Kaitlyn Roby
Review staff

City officials and developers ceremonially kicked off construction of a 114-unit senior living complex in North St. Paul Thursday morning.

Though excavating machines started the big digging a few weeks ago, Trident Development representatives, the North St. Paul mayor and City Council and local businessman Tracy Luther, who helped spearhead the project, donned hard hats and picked up gold-painted shovels to toss some dirt in the air.

The two-acre site, which is made up of property that the city and Luther sold to the developer, is located on the west side of Helen Street, south of Highway 36 and immediately north of Seppala Boulevard.

Following a blessing by Rev. Basil Owen, a chaplain at a Woodbury senior living campus, Roger Fink, senior vice president at Trident Development, thanked city staff, the project’s bank lender, Luther and his wife Tammy and others who helped bring the project to fruition.

Mayor Mike Kuehn thanked those involved and noted that Luther’s vision to bring more housing to the Helen Street parcels goes back about eight years.

Sam Kaplan commended the council and city staff for making the process to build in North St. Paul relatively quick and seamless. The Minneapolis resident and his wife, Sylvia, are the principal owners of the facility.

“Mayor, members of the council, most of all, we want to thank you,” Kaplan said.

He said he used to represent a large number of construction companies that didn’t always experience a smooth approval process to build in Twin Cities suburbs.

“And by contrast, mayor and members of the council, this has been easy,” Kaplan said. “It has been easy in the philosophical sense. You wanted us to come. We wanted to come. You’ve been our friends. We deeply appreciate your support and we look forward to being with you for a long time to come.”

$18 million project

A tax increment financing district formed in January will allow the city to reimburse the developer for up to $3 million in expenses.

The TIF money is the difference between the increased tax revenue that comes in with the new development and the tax revenue prior to development. That amount goes to the city, allowing the city to refund the developer for certain development costs.

Once reimbursements hit the maximum, the city will benefit from the increased tax base from the two buildings.

To receive the funds, the developer is required to make at least 20 percent of its units “affordable,” designated for those earning 80 percent of the median family income.

Trident Development bought the city property for $50,000. At closing, the company paid $25,000 of the $200,000 it owes the city for costs the city incurred in readying the site for development.

A $14 million loan will take care of other construction costs, according to city documents. The total cost is approximately $18 million.

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at kroby@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7814. You can also find her at twitter.com (@KRobyNews).

Sam Kaplan, who owns Polar Ridge Senior Living complex that is under construction in North St. Paul, addresses developers, councilors, city staff and members of the public at a ceremonial groundbreaking on Thursday morning. Roger Fink, senior vice president at Trident Development who has been the spokesperson for the 114-unit project, emceed the event.

Transcription: "Long before I was an ambassador, long before we started developing these kinds of facilities, I represented a large number of construction companies that went into the various suburban communities of the Twin Cities to seek their approval to build there. Not all of those leaders of those communities were nice people. It wasn’t always easy. And by contrast, mayor and members of the council, this has been easy. Now, Roger’s turning over and he’s saying, ‘Are you crazy?’ It has been easy in the philosophical sense. You wanted us to come. We wanted to come. You’ve been our friends. We deeply appreciate your support and we look forward to being with you for a long time to come."

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