The City of Richfield has just hired Stantec Consulting Services Inc. to conduct a Rental Housing Inventory and Needs Assessment and are paying them $24,750 to do so. And for the cost of $0 will I will give you the Needs Assessment answer and much earlier than Stantec:

  1. the market for for-sale housing had decreased significantly from recent years
  2. while Richfield has a good supply of affordable rental housing for efficiencies and units with 1 or 2 bedrooms, there is a critical gap in the supply of affordably-priced rental housing for units with three or more bedrooms.

Richfield has affordable rental housing, lots of it. In fact, it has so much (55% affordable) that the Metro Council did not require Richfield to build any affordable rental housing. THE CITY STILL DID.

You see, Richfield has an amazing amount of Class C Rental housing, that is apartments that are 30-40 years old and considered to be less desirable than Class A or B apartment housing. More so, many of those units are one bedroom or efficiency. So while we have a 55% affordable rental housing market it is lacking in rental units of three or more that can support large families.

I can tell you this because the city is paying Stantec $24,000 to answer a question that is already well known. However, Stantec’s report will make it “official” and it comes from an authoritive source and they can once again commence with building low income housing.


What probably won’t be discussed in the report is the appropriate thing to do. The City of Richfield will simply try add more affordable housing to a fill a multi-family niche

in an already swelled low income housing market in Richfield. Instead the appropriate thing to do is what has been done in other cities and that is to rehab some of those older rundown Class C apartments from one bedrooms and efficiencies into 3 bedroom units. This results in more multi-family housing which the Metro Council wants and the rehabbing of marginal rundown Class C apartment buildings (if done right) will improve the surrounding neighborhood. There would be a loss of one bedroom and efficiency low income units but with Richfield at 55% low income rental it actually still wouldn’t hurt Richfield’s affordable housing standing. Edina could then pick up the slack and build one bedroom or efficiency low income rental units to offset the loss since they have most of the low wage jobs and a large waiting list for low income housing anyways.

But which Apartment Buildings should be Rehabbed?

Unfortunately there is no shortage of Class C apartment buildings in distress in Richfield. One set of apartment buildings that would be good candidates ironically are right next to the proposed Pillsbury Commons site on Not-So-Pleasant Avenue and 76 Street. The apartments have been suffering from the lack of good maintenance for years and have been a headache for nearby neighbors. They are the right size/density and if converted and manged by a respected, qualified non-profit property management company that specializes in affordable housing, they could be an asset to the neighborhood rather than a blight. Oddly enough the city staff, Planning Commission and HRA appear to look at projects like Pillsbury Commons in a vacuum with little interest about the surrounding issues with problem housing as if it would have no impact on the development.