By Ana Alexander
DASSEL, MN Dassel residents should expect to see a change in housing demands in the next few years, according to a housing study done by Community Partners Inc.
David Krueger of the Meeker County Economic Development Authority reported the findings of the recently completed study at the city council meeting last Monday.
According to Krueger, future housing demand is looking up in Dassel.
“Some of the good news is, in Dassel, 87 people were added over the last 15 years in the area. When you take that into account, 87 people is a pretty good size, considering Litchfield only had 16 people,” Krueger said. “Really, we’re having more growth than loss in Dassel.”
These 87 people moved into 38 houses, most of which were existing housing, according to Krueger.
“The future demand could be five to eight new homes per year for the next five years, establishing somewhere around 25 to 40 homes. This is a mix of single-family and twin or duplex-type homes a mix of entry-level and higher-level,” Krueger said. “So they’re suggesting that between three and five of those could be higher-valued homes.”
According to Krueger, people are willing to pay more for different amenities, such as marble counter tops and nicer patios. The study suggests to include higher-end housing, instead of choosing one variety of housing.
“The consumer wants choices,” Krueger said.
Krueger also suggested looking into utilizing the Small Cities Development Program.
“Many of the existing homes will be young families, which Dassel has many. Use of the Small Cities Development Program could be applied for, and that can help update those older homes,” Krueger said. “Working with the Small Cities Development Program, I think, would be a good thing.”
According to Krueger, the study found several substandard structures in Dassel. The study suggests creating a redevelopment plan for those spaces, to potentially acquire them, tear them down, and redevelop the lots either to sell them to a neighbor, or to build new homes.
The study also showed an increase in renting in Dassel showing 30 percent of the population as renters.
“This doesn’t necessarily mean apartment buildings, but more homes and others that really have rental units in the area,” Krueger said. “We also saw an increase in rental rates in the last five or six years. Many people now are paying more than 35 percent of their income in rent.”
According to Krueger, of the 30 percent of citizens who rent in Dassel, 60 percent are either in low-income or subsidized housing. There are currently two lower-income subsidy rentals in Dassel, which have indicated that they will likely be leaving in 2017.
“A minor production of rental units is needed to meet the needs of Dassel,” Krueger said.
According to Krueger, there will be a continued need for twin homes, apartments, and duplexes.
An aging population
While Krueger reported that Dassel has a good distribution of people of different ages, the city is expected to have an aging population.
“Nothing new here, everyone’s going to be seeing this across the United States, and in fact, the entire world,” Krueger said. “But really, it accelerates in Dassel as far as housing needs after 2020.”
According to Krueger, many people who would have traditionally moved into assisted living homes or senior apartments are now staying at home longer.
“We’re looking at some dual-level homes, maybe used more just for single-level living for awhile, but with more accessibility so remodeling them [so people] can stay in their homes longer,” Krueger said.
The current number of units in Dassel is sufficient for now, but might not be once a higher demand hits the market in 2020.
“The study showed that there’s adequate assisted living units here for now, but we have to look to the future,” Krueger said.
Because the demand for senior apartments and assisted living homes is expected to increase in 2020, Krueger suggested that this demand be monitored over the next few years.
“Demand is fluid, so as we rotate people out of existing homes, they will also be then moving into senior-type operations,” Krueger said. “So what they recommend is keeping an eye on that, and having a plan in place so as people rotate through the life cycle, you’re meeting demand as needed.”
Summit Hills Development
Krueger noted that the presence of available lots was a positive aspect for Dassel, as many towns have no available lots.
“Competition and price will be the market factors in whether or not [lots] will sell, how much they’ll sell, and how they’ll sell. Towns nearby are driving that market,” Krueger said. “The east side of the county is desirable for sales, so that’s a positive.”
Krueger discussed setting a goal to build-out Summit Hills for the future.
There are several ways this growth can be encouraged.
“So Dassel has a good potential in several areas of housing over the next five years,” Krueger said. “The city helping with the market could help sales, incentives for apartment redevelopment could help those lower-income renters, encouragement of development of twin and 4-plexes is desirable for the demand, and the city should consider the Small Cities Development Program for existing home renovations, and creating rotation of people scenarios.”
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• announced that Xcel Energy is replacing the streetlights with LED lights.
• heard from Kyle Ackerman that the goal of the Economic Development Authority is to introduce three new dining establishments in Dassel by 2018.
• announced the scheduled Summit Hills Owner Association meeting Thursday, Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. at the history center.
• reminded citizens that it is against city ordinance to put leaves and grass clippings in the street.
• heard from Deputy Brian Bondhus that the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office has several lost items, such as keys and phones, and if citizens have lost such items, they may come and check at the office for them. Bondhus also reminded citizens to keep vehicles and garages locked to avoid theft, and to report suspicious activities.