Residential development leading growth of River Falls

Posted November 10, 2022

River Falls has been expanding for years and isn’t planning to stop anytime soon. This includes developments in the areas of industry, commerce, recreation and, of course, residential.

Visiting the City of River Falls website and navigating to the community development section will return a page full of links. The page includes development maps that help paint a picture of a possible future River Falls.

Emily Shively, River Falls city planner, says that residential is most needed out of all the current development.

“Right now, there is strong market feasibility, financial feasibility,” she said. “We have areas in the city that we have designated that are appropriate for residential growth, and the city council has also recognized that we have a need for this in the community. So it was one of our goals to accommodate more housing development in the city because there is a significant need for housing.”

The city conducted a housing study in 2017 and found that River Falls was in desperate need of more residences to help house its growing population. With 13 of the 28 current development sites being designated for housing in one way or another, the city plans to add hundreds of new homes to the market over the next 10 to 20 years. These new homes will range from apartments to townhomes and even senior living, with some of them, such as The Sycamore of River Falls senior living facility, already nearing completion.

Affordability of housing is a concern, according to Shively.

“So it’s significantly driven by market forces, whether it’s material cost, labor cost, land cost, and those are things that the city doesn’t control, any one of those things,” she said. “So, what we can do is make sure that our regulations support things like number of units for housing and lot sizes that can accommodate.”

Other than housing, the River Falls is open to more retail development. The main issue with retail development is the unique location of River Falls in comparison with nearby Hudson and the Twin Cities suburb of Woodbury. With such large metro retail developments nearby, it is unlikely that many large retailers will be looking to invest in River Falls, at least for the foreseeable future.

Some other notable city developments include the construction of a BOH Electronics office and manufacturing building on Whitetail Boulevard in northern River Falls; a greenhouse and mobile laboratory on Highland Drive for Eurofins BioDiagnostics; and, on Cemetery Road, the Renaissance Academy, which is part of the River Falls School District.