The ballroom at the North Oaks Golf Club was filled to capacity for an information session hosted by the North Oaks Company on Monday, Oct. 21. Approximately 170 residents began filing in a little before 6 p.m. to enjoy refreshments before a presentation that opened with remarks from Mari Harpur, owner of North Oaks Company and great-granddaughter of James J. Hill. Mrs. Harpur gave historical background, highlighting the 900 acres of conservation land in North Oaks that she and her husband, Doug, protected through a conservation easement with the Minnesota Land Trust. It is interesting to note this is the largest parcel of land in the Twin Cities under the purview of the Minnesota Land Trust. “I realized I was losing the North Oaks with which I grew up,” she said, “namely the open spaces, the wildlife and the natural environment. So I set about to change the way in which we developed.”

Mark Houge, President of the North Oaks Company, then introduced Don Pereira, Vice President of Conservation, a biologist who recently retired as Minnesota DNR’s Fisheries chief last year. He is an adjunct associate professor at the University of Minnesota, where he earned his Ph.D. Mr. Pereira is also President of the South Washington District Watershed and has extensive experience in watershed management. His detailed analysis of North Oaks’ natural resources (bird and fish habitat, carp infestation, quality of water upstream, the special nature of Black Lake) demonstrated a deep knowledge and interest in our local ecosystem.

Mr. Houge then segued into the meat of the presentation: plans for the five areas up for future development by North Oaks Company in the East Oaks area of North Oaks. Complete development of these areas will start immediately and is slated to be completed over the course of five to ten years.

1. The Nord Parcel is a 50-acre parcel designed with 12 lots with the road coming in from Sherwood Drive. These would be single-family homes with wells and septic systems.

2. Anderson Woods is a 36-acre parcel composed of 13 lots. These would be villa-style and single-family homes with access from Centerville Road.

3. Gate Hill is a 30-acre parcel would be 85 lots made up of detached townhomes and twin homes, again with access from Centerville Road.

4. Island Field is a 20-acre parcel that would be condominiums within a three-story building encompassing underground parking and communal amenities (perhaps a fitness room, outdoor fire pit and kitchen, etc.). There would be 46 units built with access from Centerville Road.

5. The remaining 60 acres of Black Lake North would be 34 lots of single-family homes. Access would be from Black Lake Road.

Perhaps most intriguing of these concepts is Island Field’s condominiums. The pricing could range substantially depending upon the size of the units and amenities available to residents. Mr. Houge also mentioned focus groups comprised of residents would explore interest among future residents to have a gated entrance at Island Field.

In her introduction, Mrs. Harpur explained that Waverly Gardens was born of her interest in providing a place for residents to live in North Oaks when they reached an age in which they could no longer stay in their homes. Single people are also looking for housing alternatives in North Oaks besides a single-family home on a large lot, which indicates residents want a variety of housing types, including villas (walk-outs with no basements) and condominiums. North Oaks Company is seeking residents for focus group discussions regarding the concept of condominiums in North Oaks. If you’d like to join the focus group, please contact Mark Houge at

The next steps are for North Oaks Company to submit plans to the City for review by staff and Planning Commission, ultimately seeking approval by the City Council. 

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