West St. Paul, South St. Paul receive grants

Work on vacant sites set to begin

While plans are still in infant stages, a group of Dakota County cities is planning to freshen up some rundown properties.

The Dakota County Community Development Agency recently awarded more than $900,000 in redevelopment incentive grants to five cities, including West St. Paul and South St. Paul.

The city of South St. Paul received a $113,974 grant, set to go towards taking down a pair of vacant buildings: Big John’s Corner Bar and a former gas station.
“(The grant) was definitely important,” said Branna Lindell, executive director of the South St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority. “It enabled us to purchase and demolish these dilapidated buildings in order to make way for a new development.”

The city plans to demolish the buildings, and combine the lots for a new building. The city has not yet determined the type of development that might come in once the sites are cleared up.

West St. Paul’s plans are also still in the works. The $250,000 they received will go towards the eventual development of land on Wentworth Avenue and South Robert Street. They have already bought an old Blockbuster Video building that was up for sale, but there aren’t solid plans beyond that.
“Right now, we agreed to work with a developer, but we don’t have anything in hard set,” said Jim Harshtorn, the city’s community development director. “We have a preliminary development, but not a concrete development.”

For all five cities, there was a criteria list that needed to be met in order to receive the grants. To start, the cities needed a 2-to-1 minimum leverage, meaning the city must match funds the grant provides. Each city must also have a development plan in store, and have affordable housing involved in that plan.

Lisa Henning, CDA assistant director of community and economic development, also mentioned a seven-step plan that involves sustainability and environmental awareness.
“It helps to improve the tax base, and it helps to improve the environment,” she said. “We like to be partners with the cities to ensure that there is affordable housing within the cities.”

Tim Faklis can be reached at 651-748-7814, tfaklis@lillienews.com, or on Twitter @tfaklisnews.


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