Student housing may find home on West CascadeThe 2.2-acre site that used to be the Foster Trailer Court will not only include a community center in the future, but also may become home to two new student housing buildings and another mixed-use/residential structure.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
The 2.2-acre site that used to be the Foster Trailer Court will not only include a community center in the future, but also may become home to two new student housing buildings and another mixed-use/residential structure.
Plans take shape as glimpses of the potential deal begin to filter through city offices and commissions.
The Journal reported last month that property owner Foster Associates worked with a developer to establish a plan for building a 10,000-square-foot community center. It would house the River Falls Food Pantry, give seniors a place for recreational activities and provide meeting space for local non-profit organizations.
Madison-based Gerrard Corporation, a 55-year-old company that works throughout the Midwest, submitted a site plan and preliminary drawings for what else it proposes to occupy the site bordered Lake George, West Cascade Avenue, and Winter and Lake streets.
Preliminary plans for the site show four phases of development.
- One: A three-story, 12-unit, 42-bedroom, 18,906-square-foot student housing building beginning construction in spring 2010.
- Two: Another structure like phase one breaking ground fall 2011.
- Three: A mixed-use building, probably residential in nature, to be started in summer 2013.
- Four: A community center beginning construction in summer 2013.
Foster Associates CEO Judie Babcock confirms that her company and Gerrard Corporation reached agreement on a potential contract. Gerrard will seek a developer’s agreement with the city, then sign a purchase agreement and begin construction.
If the deal progresses as anticipated, the project would break ground in early spring and be completed about mid year of 2012. Many aspects of phases three and four are still being established and will be determined as the companies research need.
Babcock said the community center will go approximately where the old Foster house sits now. It will be demolished to make way for the new building, though not until phase four of the project.
Babcock said, “It was a settlement house,” adding that the home has had lots of add-ons. She characterizes it as being in “really rough shape” but says some of its parts will be salvaged.
Until development begins, the land slated for phases three and four will continue to serve as space for the Grow to Share program begun this year. Babcock says the community gardening idea has been a good success; both the growers of fruits and vegetables and the community food pantry benefit from Grow to Share.
“It’ll be more exciting when it’s all finished,” said Babcock about the development.
The Journal’s attempts to reach Gerrard Development for comment were not successful. The company’s letter to the Plan Commission says it has “…built and developed and still manages” several projects in the St. Croix Valley.
Gerrard said in the letter that it knows the local market very well and is confident in the development proposed for River Falls. The company has developed similar projects in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.