Oct. 9, 2006

Dynamics in Dassel are changing

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

The City of Dassel and Dassel Township have seen an increase in housing developments, but are maxed out when it comes to available commercial properties.

“Housing has been good,” said Dassel City Administrator, Miles McGrath.

This year, Dassel has had 18 to 20 new houses built within the city limits.

Dassel Township continues to grow at a faster rate than the city and has a greater population than the city itself.

“There has been a ton of growth along the lakes,” he added.

The lakes included in Dassel Township that have seen rapid growth are Big Swan, Spring Lake, Long Lake, Lake Arvilla and the northeast end of Lake Washington, according to McGrath.

McGrath believes a part of people’s motivation for moving to the Dassel area are the lakes and its hilly terrain.

“It’s a combination of things,” he said.

There are three major housing developments that continue to grow, including Summit Hills, north on Fifth Street; Martin Estates along Highway 15; and Highland Meadows on Highview Drive.

Currently, there are 200 lots available, which is a 10-year supply for the city, according to McGrath.

Because of this, the city will declare a moratorium and won’t be accepting any new preliminary plats until more city planning is done, he explained.

Even though residential is doing “reasonably well,” the manufacturing industry has had a loss.

The City of Dassel “is still reeling” from the loss of Miller Manufacturing, after it moved from Dassel to Glencoe, according to McGrath.

Now, the building stands empty.

“We hope to find something to utilize the building,” he said.

At the same time, Dassel is experiencing the need to provide small building lots.

“We don’t have the land available for building lots for manufacturing or any other type of industry,” McGrath said.

There is a need for reasonably priced lots for companies to build and grow.

“There is none of that,” he said.

Dassel needs to find willing property owners with available land that isn’t cost-prohibitive, McGrath explained.

Currently, McGrath is working on making this possible. He has applied for a grant from the state to match local dollars to provide utility services for possible future land developments north on Highway 15.

Dassel has seen commercial growth on Highway 12 with the building of the new Meeker Memorial Clinic and the expansion of the Dassel Medical Center.

In the future, the Dassel Liquor store will be moving to the former A+ Sports and Marine building. Its lease will be up at the end of 2007, and it is in need of more space.

This coming spring, construction will begin on a Farmer’s State Bank branch along Highway 12.

Also, Custom Precision Technologies, a glass and optical components manufacturer that is currently located in Cokato, will be moving to Dassel.

“I’m glad to see a manufacturing company is willing to relocate to Dassel,” McGrath said.

McGrath has had inquiries about commercial development on the corner of Highway 15 and 12, such as a hotel or an assortment of businesses. The clinics have both inquired about that property as well, according to McGrath.

“They simply can’t afford the land,” he said.

With undeveloped land such as that, it costs more money, too, because the owner would have to build a road and get access to the city’s utilities, McGrath said.

“It’s not economically feasible,” he said.

Dassel is also missing a variety store, but McGrath explained that with Wal-mart coming to Litchfield, finding a market-driven store to compete would be difficult.

McGrath is also pleased to see older homes being renovated and updated, as well as the downtown area, which has seen some renovations and business re-openings, including a bakery opening yet this year.

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