In 1993, when the Washington County Housing and Redevelopment Authority purchased the Whispering Oaks manufactured home park in Oakdale, the streets were in poor condition and many homes had reached the end of their useful life.
Rather than think small, the HRA stepped back and asked big questions: what could we envision here if we started with a blank canvas? How could we improve the site into a desirable community, both today and for future generations?
“We dared to dream big with Red Oak Preserve, and I think it’s one of the HRA’s biggest accomplishments ever,” said Executive Director Barbara Dacy.
Thanks to unique collaborations with local government, nonprofit organizations, and private builders, Red Oak provides housing opportunities for people of all ages and in all stages of their lives.
“The diversity within the community is almost unparalleled in this type of residential development. When we say there’s something for everyone in the Red Oak Preserve, we really mean it,” says Dacy.
The HRA worked with Shelter Corporation to develop The Arbors, 29 affordable apartments for young people just starting their careers or families working in the area. Habitat for Humanity then added 20 owner-occupied townhomes.
Next, the HRA worked with the Two Rivers Community Land Trust, an organization that makes first time home buying accessible by allowing new homeowners to buy just the home and not the land beneath it. Homeowners receive some of the appreciation in the home’s value when they sell and the rest is dedicated to keeping the home affordable for future generations.
For people seeking a larger single-family home, Ryland Homes, America’s ninth-largest homebuilder, constructed 33 traditional houses ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 square feet.
Shelter Corp. then stepped up to meet the needs of seniors with Cypress Senior Living, 39 apartments for adults 55 and over.
“We’ve got such a wide variety of housing and yet it all comes together perfectly," says Jay Jensen, senior vice president of Shelter Corp. and one of the neighborhood’s master developers.
“Red Oak Preserve is an amazing testament to how the private and public sectors can work together to accomplish something greater than either could do on their own,” says Jensen.
“The buildings are visually cohesive and constructed to the highest standards. We’ve connected the project to local bike paths, provided play areas for children, and took special care of our surroundings by preserving wetlands and woodland areas. I’m so proud of what we’ve helped to create here in Washington County.”