Disputed Lowry Grove site may reopen to mobile homes and RVs

A sign announcing Lowry Grove RV Park will reopen stands on the empty site
A sign announcing the Lowry Grove RV Park will reopen stands on the empty land on Oct. 13, 2017.
Courtesy of Dave Colling

Neighbors woke to something new at the site of the former Lowry Grove mobile home and RV park this week: A sign that reads "Reopening soon."

Dave Colling, who lives nearby, took a picture and posted it to Facebook. The comments poured in: "Seriously?" "WHAT?" "I don't know why this surprises me so much."

It is a surprising turn for the site. The suburban Minneapolis park was purchased by a developer — The Village, LLC — and closed in June. People from nearly a hundred households had to relocate, and the closure sparked protests and a lawsuit.

The new sign appeared after The Village was dealt a blow at a St. Anthony city council meeting earlier this week. At the meeting, The Village presented plans to build more than 700 new housing units on the 15-acre site. The city council, however, approved a resolution on density that would allow for only half that number.

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It was a contentious vote; a representative from The Village accused St. Anthony of avoiding its commitments to build affordable housing, which made up a portion of the plan. St. Anthony mayor Jerry Faust said the city is interested in affordable housing, but that the proposed project did not fit community needs.

At the end of the meeting, Traci Tomas, vice president of The Village, said the company had no timeline for redesigning their proposal for the land, which must be approved by the city.

Then came the sign.

Brad Hoyt, president of The Village, said in a statement, "We've made the decision to reopen the Lowry Grove RV Park immediately. We plan to reopen the mobile home park in April. This is not what we wanted, but the City of St. Anthony and its Council left us no choice."

"By rejecting our development plans, they denied any economically viable redevelopment on the property."

Hoyt accuses the city of misleading The Village about the possibilities for redevelopment on the site, and says that the company would have never purchased the park and displaced the residents without encouragement from the city.

Mark Casey, the city manager for St. Anthony, said the city is aware of the "Reopening" sign. Casey said that if the park does reopen, it would "fall under legal non-conforming use."

Dave Colling, who is running for St. Anthony city council, said he views the "Reopening" sign as a negotiating tactic on the part of the developer.

In 2015, Continental Property Group — the parent company of The Village — was involved in a redevelopment dispute with the city of Wayzata, according to WCCO. Continental painted the building at the center of the dispute hot pink and installed a sign that read "XXX Adult Books DVD Toys."