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Development project proposed at Jamaica and Military met with some resistance

Design sketches show senior-living units and a community center at Michael's Landing. (Submitted illustration)1 / 3
Plans for senior housing and single-family homes development could move forward on Military Road and Jamaica Avenue. (Submitted photo)2 / 3
The city's vision for the property west of Jamaica Avenue and south of Military Road (shown left) and the proposal given by Xcellerent and WAI Continuum developers (right) do not match, but the two are working to compromise. (Submitted photos)3 / 3

Initial plans for a new development including a senior living facility and single-family homes west of Jamaica Avenue and south of Military Road have been met with concern by city officials.

Gary Augustine of Xcellerent LLC and David Wolterstorff of WAI Continuum brought proposals for a 150- to 190-unit senior living facility and a housing development of up to 105 lots to the city in a workshop Nov. 2. The development would be just north of the “Waters at Michael’s Pointe” development.

The Xcellerent senior-living project would have rooms for independent and assisted living units, as well as memory care units spread over 103,000 square feet. The estimated cost of the facility is about $32 million.

Initial development plans show the facility on the south end of the property, between the lake and Jamaica Avenue. Wolterstorff plans to sell the remaining acreage to other developers to build the single-family homes.

The city created a master plan for the area in 2006 that focuses on parklands and wetlands, alongside housing and development. The city’s plans included parkland near Jamaica Avenue and townhomes northwest of the lake, different from Xcellerent and WAI Continuum’s proposed plans.

City staff, council and planning commission members addressed concerns with the proposal at the workshop, based on the city’s master plan and other factors related to construction and placement.

Augustine said they are editing their proposal in light of city feedback, such as moving the senior living facility slightly north.

The placement Xcellerent submitted to the city was partially in a wetlands area. The city had also scouted the east side of the lake for parkland, so that it could be seen from Jamaica Avenue and have “public vistas and uses,” city engineer Jennifer Levitt said.

“We’re proposing shifting the location to make room for a park along the east side,” Wolterstorff said. “The north/northeast corner [of the lake] will be for senior living, to make room for the park. That’s what we want to move forward with.”

Many city council and planning commission members expressed concerns with the bedrock that runs throughout the parcel. Levitt said it can be very costly and difficult to remove, as well as make it difficult to put in utilities and basements.

Wolterstorff said they aren’t concerned about developing in the areas with bedrock.

“Are we worried about it? No,” he said. “It’s relatively straightforward. It can be removed.”

Part of the developers’ proposal included shifting a planned city parkway set to run through the development uphill slightly to mitigate removal of bedrock on the site, Wolterstorff said.

“We still think moving the parkway will be far better environmentally — you don’t have to blast all that rock,” he said. “And the top of that peak [of the proposed parkway] is 40 feet above the lake, so people can see and take in nature.”

Augustine said they would return to conversations with the city later this month regarding possible solutions, and said to a certain point they are committed to making the project work in Cottage Grove.

“We love the location and the heritage of the Wolterstorff family of being on the property since 1903,” he said. “But Xcellerent has had two meetings with planning prior to last Wednesday's (Nov. 2) workshop, and in both meetings all of our proposed changes to our proposals were turned away. We have tried and hope that the next meeting will be more successful in bringing a state of the art senior facility to Cottage Grove.”

Levitt said this could lead to a good outcome if a compromise is found.

“It’s a great product and we would love to have [them] here,” she said. “There’s lots of potential there…It just needs to align with our plan.”