BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN Granite Ridge Apartments, proposed for 265 River Street, moved closer to fruition Monday evening, as the Delano City Council showed its support by adopting four resolutions regarding the proposal after conducting a public hearing.
While no residents spoke at the public hearing, it was noted that about 20 people had attended a neighborhood meeting regarding the project, and one individual had spoken during the Delano Planning Commission public hearing related to the project.
Following the public hearing, the council’s next step was to approve the Planned Unit Development concept plan and subdivision sketch plan for the former Granite Works site redevelopment proposed by Ron Clark Construction and Design and BBS Granite.
The proposed apartments would have rents ranging from about $823 to $1,175 per month.
Councilman Jon Sutherland said he had been questioned about the workforce housing aspect of the project.
City Administrator Phil Kern said the apartments would provide housing for individuals entering the workforce in Delano, who may not be able to afford a home. He noted, “This isn’t bottom of the barrel. This is the most expensive rent we have in the community today. The quality would be at the top, as well. It would provide for a gap we currently have.”
In 2017, qualifying annual incomes for this type of housing range from at or below $37,980 for an individual to at or below $62,940. Once tenants are approved, their income is no longer considered.
City Planner Alan Brixius provided an overview of the project.
“There’s 18 different buildings here, eight different parcels, one owned by the city, and the balance owned by BBS,” City Planner Alan Brixius said. “This has been a redevelopment site since the first comprehensive plan to take this industrial site out of downtown.”
A three-lot subdivision with up to 150 or 160 apartment units has been proposed for the 7.71-acre lot, though the commercial lot closest to River Street may not be redeveloped, Brixius said.
Development would reduce the amount of impervious surface from 67 percent to 38 percent, and that number decreases to 17 percent if the area that was mined for granite is included. Brixius said the new development would have a storm water management plan, which the existing site did not have, so storm water-related issues should be mitigated.
Ron Clark has proposed two parking stalls for each unit, less than the city’s requirement of 2.25 stalls per unit.
“The biggest issue we have here is trying to alleviate issues on Oak Avenue and River Street,” Brixius said.
He added that much of the feedback from the neighborhood meeting revolved around traffic. Industrial traffic at the site caused noise and vibration, so a staging plan calling for all construction traffic to enter the site via River Street will be required.
“They don’t want a lot of traffic on Oak, but they understand the transition from truck traffic to automotive traffic is an improvement,” Brixius said.
Because the project is in the shoreland overlay district, Brixius is working with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which typically would only allow 27 units on the property.
“I think they’re on board with it,” Brixius said.
He talked about the 100-year flood plain and having the apartments built above it, though the parking underneath the apartments could be below the flood plain.
“This doesn’t obviously need to be figured out right now but, if parking is in the 100-year (flood plain), we might want to have it in the back of our minds, if there’s a flood coming, where are all those cars going?” Councilwoman Betsy Stolfa said.
Brixius said an emergency parking plan may be needed.
After hearing more about the project, the council adopted a resolution to administer a Tax Increment Finance district for Granite Ridge.
“We’re confident that would provide incentive for land acquisition and cleanup costs for the site and help provide an interest payment for the deferment of fees,” Kern said of the TIF district.
The council then adopted a resolution of city support for Ron Clark’s proposal, which will be submitted to the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency for the 2018 Housing Tax Credit Program.
Finally, the council authorized a deferred loan for Granite Ridge Apartments in the amount of $655,000 to cover water and sewer infrastructure fees. Though the deferred loan agreement does not call for interest to be paid, there will be interest paid out of the TIF fund per city policy.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• learned that poor soils at the proposed site for the splash pad would increase the cost by about 35 percent, so the city is having soils tested at three other potential locations.
• approved the purchase of four cameras at a cost of $5,930 from Wright Hennepin Security for the compost facility. The cameras will allow the city to stop staffing the facility at a cost of $12,000 annually, and will allow for the facility to be open more hours.