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Lanesboro Community Cooperative (a.k.a. the Old School) Redevelopment Plan

Fri, Aug 1st, 2003
Posted in Features

Jeff Allman, now a partner with Northcountry on the redevelopment of the old school property, set the tone for a special Lanesboro Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Wednesday, July 30, when he proclaimed, "Were here to embrace the public interest."

Allman presented a new plan for the property that included the excavation of a berm of grass to build garages with parking area on the top of the garages as well. Also in the new plan are some eight or nine garages inside the building itself. The current alley would be moved about fifty-five feet south to connect with Ridgeview.

Allman stated, "Our thought today is to keep the alley forever." When asked if this new plan was a lot more expensive, Allman replied, "The short answer is, Yeah."

He went on to say that it would be more marketable, however, as a result. The movement of the alley to the south would allow for the construction of the garages and for the creation of more green space.

While the Bethlehem church members were glad to hear the alley would stay, they werent fond of the idea of the alley becoming one way, the opposite way from the current use.

Commissioner Robert Nordby put it in perspective, however, when he said, "Its better to have an alley going the wrong way than no alley at all."

Allman also suggested the possibility of creating a deck area on top of the garages overlooking the vista. Referring to the proposal as "relatively non-invasive, relatively pretty," Allman asked the Planning and Zoning Commission to recommend to the city council that they relocate 130 feet of the alley (roadway) to connect 55 feet south of its current intersection with Ridgeview.

Northcountry used a land surveyor to find all possible available parking space for the area. Allman shared pictures he had taken of the churches during services to show the current usage as well. The developers reported a magnetometer had been used to check the rebar in the building, phase one and two environmental audits have been done, and the roof has been inspected. To date the developers have spent $40,000 on the project; they are eager to reach an agreement with the city so they can move forward.

Council member Peggy Hanson asked for cost breakdowns on the project. Hanson also asked whether the alley should remain a public roadway or become a privately owned driveway for the Bethlehem Church and the housing cooperative, pointing out that a privately owned driveway would not need to be engineered and would provide more flexibility.

Tax Increment Financing

Mike Bubany advised the Commission that TIF (tax increment financing) could still be used if the roadway became private even if the roadway was not built to public standards. He informed the audience that in a redevelopment project, ninety per cent of the funds must be used to correct the "blighting" conditions of the property. A member of the audience replied, "No problem, its all blight!"

The amount of TIF is flexible. Warren Kramer of Northcountry commented, "(TIF) just ensures the success of the project."

After asking and receiving a recommendation for the relocation of the alley (roadway), Allman asked the commission to also recommend a curb cut on Hillcrest for a driveway into the property. This too the commission unanimously supported.

Other matters of concern were the parking space requirements. Ordinance currently requires two spaces per unit, but the consensus of the gathering was that 1.5 spaces would be reasonable. Since this is governed by ordinance a public hearing would be necessary to change it.

The sixteen-foot space between Bethlehem Church and the old school would need to be recognized as unbuildableboth the church and the development would need a no build easement. (A twenty -foot space is standard.)

The meeting ended as the developers promised to return with detailed drawings to the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on August 26. If those drawings are approved, the platting/ establishment of a PUD process would begin. Developer Jeff Allman commented on the successful meeting, calling it a "collaborative, interactive meeting" from which some good ideas had developed. He encouraged people who wanted a "show and tell" of his work to visit the redeveloped old Spring Valley boarding house he had worked on.

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