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BREAKING NEWS

ELM Homes adding 2 more

By Staff | Feb 5, 2017

The city of Blue Earth will soon be the site of two new residential homes to house persons with developmental disabilities, according to information released last week.

ELM Homes of Waseca signed a purchase agreement on three lots in the city last Wednesday and has also signed an agreement with both the city of Blue Earth’s economic development authority (EDA) and its housing redevelopment authority (HRA) to help fund the project.

The two new multi-resident homes will be built on property at the corner of East Fourth and North Rice streets in Blue Earth. They will join two other ELM Homes facilities in Blue Earth built in 1995-96. Those two homes employ 25 full- and part-time employees.

ELM Homes has many such facilities around Southern Minnesota and is doing some expansion this year, according to Tim Clawson, director of the Faribault County Development Corporation, which has been assisting Blue Earth with the project.

“The EDA and the HRA are assisting with funding the purchase of the property where the buildings will be built,” Clawson says. “And both are being done as forgiveable loans.”

The EDA is funding $22,500 toward the purchase of the lots, with $20,000 of that funding coming from a grant from the Bevcomm Foundation.

The HRA is adding in another $15,000 forgiveable loan, plus they are going to foot the cost of demolition of a house that is on one of the three lots involved with the plan, using money from their housing grant program for the demo.

All of the loans will be “forgiven” after five years if the houses are built and occupied for those five years.

Clawson says the city will actually recoup the amount of the loans over the five-year period due to increased property taxes on the two homes.

“The estimated market value of the two homes is $269,869 each,” Clawson says. “And that means a property tax on each one would have been $4,724 if they would have been on the rolls last year.

But, while the HRA is involved because of increasing housing in the city, Clawson says the EDA is involved because of economic development and job creation.

“Both of the homes will house two or three residents,” Clawson explained. “And both will have two full-time daytime employees on two different shifts and one full-time employee at night for a total of 10 local employees.”

The two homes will fit in with the neighborhood and resemble a typical single level home or a townhouse. There are garages in the front, but those are for employees and a transport van, Clawson says.

The three lots being used will be split into two lots. One of the new homes will face Fourth Street, while the other one will face Rice Street.

With the signing of the documents last week, Clawson expects the demolition of the house to begin very soon.

“ELM Homes and their building contractor, Builders First Source of Waseca, plan to begin construction as soon as they can,” Clawson said. “It is the first two new units they are going to build this year. They hope for a March 15 start.”

ELM Homes has been in existence for over nearly 40 years, since 1979, and employs 500 people in nine counties and has units 60 locations, including New Prague, Montgomery, Elysian, LeCenter, Waterville, Waseca, Mankato, Waldorf, Owatonna, Albert Lea and many others. Its name is composed of the initials of the founder and owner, Eugene Lorenz Miller.

“We see this as a great opportunity to work with the people there in Blue Earth,” says Miller. “These new homes will be totally handicap accessible, include things such as wheel chair showers, and be fully functional for the residents.”

Both Miller and Clawson agreed that the whole project is a very good deal for everyone involved.

“This is really a win-win situation for everyone,” Clawson said. “We are assisting a business with a project in Blue Earth, the EDA is helping create some new jobs in town and this is bringing a much needed service to some of the residents of this area.”

Miller and his builder were in Blue Earth on Friday plotting the site for the two new buildings. They said construction will start as soon as possible.