Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, March 26, 2001

Hardware expansion planned for Joe's Sport Shop

Expansion of Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake to include a hardware store was presented at the Howard Lake City Council meeting Tuesday.

Owner Joe Drusch plans to blow out his back wall and expand Joe's Sport Shop by 3,500 square feet to add a Hardware Hank. He will offer fishing, and lawn and garden supplies, as well as hardware items.

Drusch asked for a loan of up to $60,000 from the Voyageur Fund, which is a low-interest loan program offered by the city to Howard Lake businesses.

"The whole town is excited about it," Smith said of the expansion.

Since the business is in a tax increment financing district, Drusch may be reimbursed for a number of costs, including land acquisition, site preparation, and costs for upgrading his current store.

Drusch will be required by the state to install handicapped accessible bathrooms, which is also eligible for reimbursement, said the city TIF consultant Michele Hartman.

Council members spent nearly a half hour lining up a schedule to match Drusch's remodeling, so that the TIF reimbursement would be possible and the red tape required by the legislature regarding such matters would be met. He should be able to start work May 23, ending in the fall.

Werner developer may get reimbursement

The city discussed giving money to the developer, Mike Deutz, of the empty lot where the former Werner Hardware building was.

The city sold the land for the development along Highway 12 to Deutz for $1,although they have not given any other kind of incentive to him, Borglund said.

Changes in the legislature are closing more options for the tax increment financing (TIF) tool available for cities to use in redevelopment.

This means losing revenue on certain existing TIF districts, unless the city could come up with an alternative plan for those districts, Hartman said.

Coincidentally, Deutz indicated that he is concerned with the profit-making portion of the development there.

The actual bid-letting of the process turned out higher than Duetz anticipated and he was wondering if he could be reimbursed for some of his expenses, Hartman said.

"The project isn't working for him," Hartman said.

There is only one interested renter in the apartment portion of it. The bank gets skittish if there are no tenants for the apartments or the commercial space, Hartman said.

In light of the changes in legislation, the city council could consider allowing Deutz an additional $15,000 per year - to a total of $150,000 if it wished - to reimburse him for his expenses.

This actually makes sense for the city, since this is a city-driven project and the city would lose this money anyway, City Administrator Doug Borglund said, since the tax money would revert back to the school and county.

The new development there will offer low- to mid-income housing options, help rejuvenate the downtown area, and removed a blighted building as well, Hartman said.

A handful of residents objected to the demolition of the former Werner Hardware Building because the so-called "blighted building" was built before 1900 and they considered it historic.

The city will stand to collect about $300,000 in taxes over the 25-year life span of the TIF district there, Hartman said.

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