From Page 1 “The next item on our agenda is the approval of the minutes,” Cottage Grove Mayor and EDA President Myron Bailey announced, getting a motion from EDA vice-president Steve Dennis, …
From Page 1 “The next item on our agenda is the approval of the minutes,” Cottage Grove Mayor and EDA President Myron Bailey announced, getting a motion from EDA vice-president Steve Dennis, seconded by EDA member Chris Carey. Having finished the preliminaries and quorum being established, it was into the economic and business inquiry, given by Economic Development Director Christine Costello.
“The next beige book will come out in a few days,” Costello said as she summarized the March report. With rising labor demand offset by labor constraints, employment for March had been flat, with losses being suffered in the entertainment, hospitality and retail while those hiring were led by finance and manufacturing.
At the same time, Costello reported that wage and price pressures were modest, with strongest pressure in construction, finance and manufacturing. At the same time, consumer spending rose moderately in market, spurred in part by federal stimulus payments to area households.
As to commercial construction, meanwhile, this had continued to slow overall with residential construction still remaining strong. Commercial real estate had been mixed, with an increase in vacancy in other real estate sectors. Framing and insulation inspection for the Grove 80 apartments had been completed and past, while the third floor had been conducted the week Finally, manufacturing activity was moderate, with expectations calling for growth to resume. Additionally, Costello reported that Air Gas had contractors continuing to work on the installation of racking and piping, with the hope to be done by July or August of 2021.
As to the Ravine Park Trailhead building, Costello said that, “contractors are working on the interior finishes of the building and its really looking nice.” In addition, Capp Industries had plans under review for a 121,000 square foot office and warehouse, after choosing to wait previously in 2020 due to the pandemic. The planned construction would be between the bus garage and Park Place Storage. But that wasn’t all Costello had to cover.
“In terms of the April Planning Commission, there are a number of items on that,” she updated the EDA. Among them were Hinton’s Woods and Settlers’ Bluff residential developments. Meanwhile, Oppidan had requested a zoning amendment to building a market rate, 171-unit, four story apartment building.
EDA member Rachel Smoot asked if the apartments would entail homes bought out, to which Costello said there was an 8-acre site behind the homes in question, and that no homes would be getting bought out, backed in this assertion by EDA President Bailey.
“Do they plan to keep some of the trees and keep it wooded?” Smoot asked, saying that there were deer in the area.
“Part of the plan they’re putting together is to keep as many trees as possible,” Bailey replied. “I will share with you that there will be a very significant buffer between Hardwood and the apartment building, and then the other side of Hardwood…that will remain wooded, that’s part of the park there,” he said.
Renovation and other work at Cedarhurst, meanwhile, was revealed to be in the planning stages, with more coming into focus as the firm engaged the community in the coming months. With no further questions being asked by EDA members on the local economic and building update, it was into the Cottage Grove Façade Improvement Program, in place since 2019. Matt Wolf presented as Assistant to the City Administrator.
“This is a popular program that is meant to incentivize improvements to the exterior of existing commercial buildings,” Wolf shared, going into Jamaica Square details.
“So in 2020 we approved the project by Jamaica Square,” he said, adding that support was also given to the shops at Gateway North. Shops have until September 1 to complete improvements per the agreement, Wolf said.
Going into Jamaica Square, Wolf said that it was a multi-tenant commercial building, along with being one of the more visible ones from Highway 61/10. Jamaica Squares was approved unanimously by the EDA on June 9, 2020 with a 7 – 0 vote, then by the Council with a 5 – 0 vote. With $81,982 in eligible expenses based on project guidelines, $24,999 was the maximum match, with a 70 percent private to public funding ratio. On April 1, 2021, Jamaica Squares had submitted their paid invoices for the project, including $15,600 to Cityscape Painting Contractors Inc. for exterior painting of the building, $12,510 to G& J Awning for new awnings throughout, $6,442 to Sun Master LLC for new exterior building lighting, $31,500 to ASC Asphalt Concrete Solution Inc. to remove and then install a new curb and gutter, along with parking lot replacement. Last but not least was $15,900 paid to Indigo Signs for a new monument sign.
“So with that the recommendation before you today is for approval of the distribution of the $24,999 to Jamaica Crossroads and Jamaica Plaza,” Wolf said of the program, then asking for questions. No questions being asked, a motion was made by EDA member Dan Myers, seconded by EDA member Eric Thiewes to approve the distribution. Following approval of Jamaica Crossroads and Jamaica Plaza, Bailey turned things over once again to Christine Costello, who summarized the program as follows:
• In place since 2019
• Offering up to a 50 percent match in financial assistance to commercial property and/or business owners for improvements.
• Maximum funding of $25,000 with total budget of $75,000, allowing awarding of three $25,000 grants.
Along with general program info were additional program criteria, as follows:
• Location within the City of Cottage Grove (based on priority map)
• Ability to encourage improvements to surrounding businesses
• Ability to improve the appearance and attractiveness of an area.
• Consistency with the Cottage Grove Comprehensive Plan
• Compliance with City Codes.
• The possibility of priority being given to local businesses over national/regional tenants.
• Those who have not previously received a grant will be considered before those who have in the past.
“In looking back we haven’t received any feedback from businesses in terms of criteria being difficult to meet and so forth,” Costello said, putting forward Design Assistance as a possible addition to the Façade Improvement program. Design assistance would be paid directly to the licensed design professional/architect and would not require a match from the grant recipients. The $2,000 design assistance would help provide 18 hours of design help, with three firms interested in having their names listed on the city website: Initial Design Consultation; Collage Architects, and AMCON. With a motion by EDA member Thiewes seconded by EDA vice president Dennis, the addition of design assistance in the façade improvement was approved unanimously. Along with economic update and façade improvement plan, however, came demolition of an old home—by fire no less!
“Last under our business items for today is demolition of 8991 West Point Douglas Road,” Bailey announced of a single-family residence the EDA had taken possession of.
The controlled burn, set to take place at a future date after Public Safety has developed a plan for all proposed training at the site, will be carried out by the fire department. The split-level single-family frame house on 1.8 acre lot was purchased by the EDA in December and taken possession of on January 19, 2021, being originally built in 1965. The home has 960 finished square feet, along with a 432 square foot garage space. Stationed within the historical plat of the Village of Langdon on the South Washington watershed, the home has an estimated total value of $213,400 at the Washington County GIS site, though this is not a legal document.
After the EDA took possession of the property an environmental consultant was brought in, determining that there was asbestos on the bottom layer of the kitchen flooring and above the furnace, but no lead paint in the house. With the asbestos since removed from the residence along with other hazardous materials, the electric and natural gas service cottage has been terminated at the residence as well. Once police training for public safety purposes has taken place at the site, the fire department will conduct a controlled burn at the site, also for training purposes. Three bids were received for removal of the basement walls, driveway, and burnt-housing materials once the controlled burn has taken place, with low bidder JM Hauling LLC winning with a bid of $15,034 plus a contingency of 15 percent if needed. Motion was made by EDA member Carey and seconded by EDA member Myers.
Once the post-burn cleanup work is completed the site in question will be maintained and mowed by the city of Cottage Grove, with no active marketing at present but development proposals welcome.
The next EDA meeting will be Tuesday May 11th at 7:30 a.m. If you’re interested in becoming an EDA member, the city is accepting applications for a seat vacancy. More information may be had by going online to www.cottagegrovemn.gov or contacting city hall for an application.