Lots of dirt moving in northwest Rochester is a sign that work has started on a new, more than $20 million apartment complex.
South Dakota-based Stencil Homes is developing a two-building, 192-unit project called The Pines at Badger Hills. It's tucked away on Badger Hills Drive Northwest between the second and third roundabouts. That puts it just off of West Circle Drive and near the new Hy-Vee grocery store. A new roadway will connect The Pines with the new commercial development.
Developer and builder Nate Stencil describes The Pines as "a mix of market rate with one- and two-bedroom apartments." His goal is to have it open by summer 2016.
"This one is not a luxury project. It is a middle to upper, price-point-driven project," he said.
While Stencil only has been active in Rochester for a few years, he has a lot of projects in the works here.
"We've been pretty aggressive in the market. We've been able to make some good relationships there," he said. Stencil works closely with well-known Rochester Realtor Merl Groteboer.
The firm has two other Rochester apartment complexes — Nue52 and Kascade Place — under construction at Rochester's 65th Street Northwest interchange, across U.S. Highway 52 from the north Menards store.
Stencil expects Nue52, which has 83 units, to be ready to open within 60 days or so. Kascade Place, which will have 96 units, is expected to open in February or March.
Stencil Homes also has announced plans to build a $15 million, 110-unit apartment complex on the corner of Third Avenue Southeast and Fourth Street in downtown Rochester. That's across from the city-county Government Center. That project still is in the early planning stages.
More than 480 apartments might seem like a lot to have in the pipeline for Rochester, which has many other similar projects already in the works. However, Stencil isn't worried.
"There's a lot of pent-up demand there," he said. "I think everyone will be surprised how well the market there will handle adding a couple thousand units."
However, Stencil predicts The Pines will be the firm's last "suburban" or outlying Rochester development for a while.
"We feel strongly that there is more opportunity in the downtown area now. We have one other project we'll be doing in the urban core (in addition to the Fourth Street one)," he said.
Meanwhile, he's also moving quickly on another Minnesota project — revamping the former Pioneer Press building in downtown St. Paul. He recently purchased it and plans to convert it into 175 market-rate apartments.