Woodbury Opens New Phase of Development

For developers, it’s “game on” in Woodbury.  The first part of Phase 2 is now open for development.  At nearly 3 1/2 square miles, Phase 2 is one of the largest projects ever envisioned in Minnesota, designed to house about 18,000 people in 6,300 homes. That population alone would make it bigger than two-thirds of the cities in the metro area.

The city council voted Nov. 14 to start accepting applications to build in the area called Fields of Woodbury, 611 acres south of East Ridge High School and the Bielenberg Sports Center.The city also is accepting proposals for the 30-acre Bielenberg Gardens, southwest of Bailey Road and Radio Drive, according to associate city planner Eric Searles. That area will be an “urban village” — a walkable neighborhood incorporating shops, homes and small businesses clustered around a grocery store.

The entire Phase 2 area is projected to be completed in 10 years. It is expected to eventually include a second shopping center, near Dale Road and Woodbury Drive.

Homebuilders are eager to get started.  The area’s first homes already are envisioned by Mike DeVoe, president of Ryland Twin Cities, a division of the national homebuilder Ryland Homes.

As the first developer in line, he has applied to build 97 single- family homes on 40 acres. His development, called Bailey Lake, will be near the high school.  DeVoe said he has been hoping to develop there for the past 18 months and was waiting for the city to open the land for building.  “We are excited about it,” he said.  Work could begin as early as spring.  DeVoe was bullish on the project. “Woodbury has been a very successful community,” he said. The Phase 2 area, he said, is “well-located, has good transportation access and has great schools.  Those things, plus the new retail, will be a “great draw,” DeVoe said.

Mike Rygh has been building in Woodbury for years and is just as optimistic about Phase 2’s potential.  Rygh, owner of Custom One Homes, has built homes in Stonemill Farms, one of the fastest-growing developments in the state. Rygh said the last lots in Stonemill will be purchased by the end of 2013 — and developers will turn their attention to Phase 2. “Phase 2 has the same kind of potential,” Rygh said.  He said another attraction of the Phase 2 area would be the $15.5 million expansion of the Bielenberg Sports Center. Construction is expected to start in 2013 and should be finished in one year.  “The new shopping center, the location with the school, the rec center — it’s going to be excellent,” Rygh said.

While opening Phase 2 is a good sign for Woodbury, builders say it’s not necessarily a sign that the housing crisis has bottomed out.  Rygh said buyers still are a little cautious.  “Maybe they aren’t doing all the things they might have done before,” he said. “Maybe they don’t put in the wet bar or the fireplace.”

In Phase 2, Rygh plans to build the same kind of homes he’s building now, in the $500,000 to $700,000 range.  Associate planner Searles said the recovery — at least in Woodbury — is under way. “We have had a strong housing market in 2012, and even in late 2011,” he said. “We continue to see strength.” Rygh expects to see the housing market improve in 2013. “There is a lot of pent-up demand. People have not done things in the last seven years that they would have liked to do,” Rygh said. “Now they are saying, ‘We are tired of waiting.  And this is going to be a nice place to live.”

Source: Twin Cities Pioneer Press