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Winnebago has lots of lots for sale

By Staff | Jun 9, 2019

Winnebago’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) met Wednesday, June 5, to discuss the progress of a number of projects they are currently working on, including trying to sell a number of lots the city has in their ownership.

CEDA representative Annie Leibel informed the EDA members who were present she had spoken to the utility committee with their suggestion on how to sell the 16 city-owned lots Winnebago has.

The Winnebago Utility Committee determined they would like to sell a number of the lots as a sealed bid process, while a handful of other lots with buildings still on the lots were suggested to have bids sent out for demolition.

“This is not on our priority plan, but if the EDA?wants to sell these lots, we would suggest having a stipulation to the sold lots,” said Leibel. “Perhaps that stipulation could be to have a house up within a certain period of time.”

“If we have a sealed bid process, we would have the ability to reject any bids we see fit for the purpose of this process,” said deputy city clerk Jessi Sturtz.

EDA member Scott Lehman suggested that if the EDA were to sell the lot and the buyer met a stipulation, the city should forgive a certain amount for the development of the property.

“If we sell the lot, and they have a house up in that period of time, I think it would be beneficial to give back the money they paid for the lot,” he said. “If they are putting a $200,000 house on the property, I think that seems like a good initiative. If you want this town to grow, you have to have incentive to build and live here.”

“I think we need to put ‘for sale’ signs on the available lots,” EDA member Jean Anderson added to the conversation. “That way people know which lots are for sale and that they’re not owned by adjacent properties or anything. It shows we’re trying to get rid of them, otherwise how are people going to know?”

Members of the EDA shot ideas back and forth to consider the best way of going about not only getting the most use out of the lots and bringing in new housing possibilities, but also what the most lucrative option would be for the city.

“Are we opposed to neighbors buying lots?” questioned EDA member Steve Malchow.

“I don’t think so,” responded Sturtz. “If we can get them off the city’s hands, all the better. We are pretty much losing money just by mowing these lots and they are not on the tax rolls, so if a neighbor is interested in expanding a garden or building a garage or something, why not?”

Lehman began to make a formal motion to forgive the original purchase price of the lot and assessments, as well as two percent of the taxable market value if the purchasers have a dwelling up within a certain period of time. However, there was concern with the ability to give dollared incentive from the EDA’s revolving loan fund.

“I think there are pretty strict guidelines about that revolving loan fund,” Leibel said.

“I think that’s a debatable point because it would be within the guideline’s purposes to promote economic development and nobody would disagree that housing is under that umbrella,” retorted Hill.

“I’m thinking state statute, specifically. We’d have to look to see if it’s okay to hand out money and I’m not sure,” said Leibel. She told the EDA she would have that information to them by the following week.

“It seems to be more economically feasible and fair if you do a percentage of what they’re building,” agreed Anderson.

The EDA members all agreed to work with the taxable market value of the dwelling.

“Then it’s what the city believes the property is worth,” said Lehman.

Steve Malchow seconded the motion, and it passed.

In other areas of business, the EDA received an update on their Request For Proposal (RFP) on the old grocery store property.

“So last month we talked about drawing up an RFP because if we can get a developer to build on the lot once we get the redevelopment grant, the developer part makes us eligible for the redevelopment grant. We are working on an RFP and it lays out the building and the redevelopment grant. You have development incentives, and once you show this to City Council, they can approve it and I will present it to the county. Once they approve it, we can go out for the actual RFP,” shared Leibel.

The county’s policy with regard to demolition of the old grocery store building is to take the building down to ground level, not the foundation, and the cost would be split between the city and the county to make the property ready to build on.

“We would be responsible for the foundation costs, and I’d have to double check, but I think the redevelopment grant would cover that,” added Leibel. “The idea is that we will send out the RFP for about a month and any applications we receive we would consider. Really what the redevelopment grant needs is an agreement between the city, the county, and the developer that they will build something. The property would be put on the League of Minnesota Cities page and sent to interested parties.”

The Winnebago EDA also discussed:

A business survey update from Leibel. She has contacted 20 businesses about the survey and has received eight back. She will do additional follow up with the other businesses. Over the next month, Leibel hopes to contact the majority of the remaining 46 businesses so she can share the feedback during the August meeting.

Moving the July meeting from July 3 to July 10, at 5 p.m. in the Municipal Center. A motion was made, and the meeting date was changed to July 10 due to the July 4 holiday.