By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN Members of the Cokato City Council sat down Tuesday with a representative from Oppidan, a Twin Cities developer, to discuss the possibility of a new commercial development in town and to use tax-increment financing to assist with the redevelopment project.
Though no lease has been signed, Oppidan is in the process of securing the land and is working with Shopko on a concept plan of a retail store.
“We will have a buyer,” said Paul Tucci of Oppidan.
The desired land to purchase is on the northeast corner of Broadway Avenue and Highway 12, currently owned by Paul Kliewer. This does not include the corner property where the creamery building is located.
Tucci expressed that Oppidan has already made a deal with Kliewer, and although it would be ideal to include the corner property, currently owned by the Glessing family, the purchase price was “at a number well above what we felt that corner was worth.”
He also noted that Oppidan has explored other spots in Cokato, but “none of those made sense,” he said. “This is the right spot to be.”
The intended tenant would be Shopko, and the building would have 25,860 square feet of retail space, including a drive-thru pharmacy.
Access would be on both Highway 12 and County Road 3.
Because this would be redevelopment property for the city, Oppidan is looking to work with the city to help finance the project through tax increment financing.
Unlike the Cowgirl Tuff project, in which the owners borrowed money from the city to be paid back through new taxes over a designated period of time, this would be a “pay as you go” TIF project.
This project was compared to the Centra Sota redevelopment project in 2006, in that the city won’t be putting money toward the project.
Instead, the owner would be reimbursed $750,000 over time through TIF.
Currently, the property doesn’t generate much in taxes because it’s not developed, explained Don Levens, city administrator, following the meeting.
Because certain criteria must be met in order for a property to qualify as a tax increment financing district, the council decided to go forward with a redevelopment report to be done through an engineering firm.
The report, which is expected to be completed in 30 days, will determine if this project is feasible to move forward.
The report will be provided to the council at its next council meeting, which has been scheduled for Monday, Aug. 18 (rescheduled due to the Corn Carnival).
Tucci noted that the schedule of events set forth by the city’s financial advisor was sufficient, and construction wouldn’t begin until spring.