Council’s discussion reveals concerns about Kraewood’s development; HCI takes nominations for boards, committees
Next week, Northfield City Council will consider approving the tax increment financing deal for the 106-unit building it is a key part of Kraewood’s development. Conversation during Tuesday night’s business session revealed concerns from council members and Mayor Rhonda Pownell, as well as worries from the building’s developer, that could complicate or even derail the project.
Ehlers Group’s Nick Anhut, who serves as financial adviser to the town of Northfield, gave council an overview of the deal, and community development manager Mitzi Baker gave an update on the building’s design. Councilor Suzie Nakasian, however, questioned how the board can approve the TIF deal without having already approved the development and platform agreements, which will be presented to the board in late March or early April.
Nakasian was reminded that the TIF only applies to the apartment building. The Plat deal will cover the entire development, which will also include single-family and multi-family homes, so the sequence of votes taken on the deals doesn’t make much of a difference.
She was also surprised to learn that Council would not be asked to approve the design of the building, having been informed by Director Baker that consent for the site plan would be given at the staff level.
Nakasian and Mayor Rhonda Pownell took issue with the process. Nakasian was very worried that as an elected official she would be asked to vote for a major financial contribution to a development that she could not be sure met all the conditions of the Planning Code. While she said she was inclined to vote in favor of TIF, she informed city staff that before Tuesday’s vote she was going to need to verify that each of her concerns had been addressed.
Mayor Pownell was also very clearly bothered by the order in which council would be asked to vote. And she repeatedly mentioned that the TIF agreement is over 70 pages long, but was received by the board on Tuesday, giving them a week to read and understand the intricacies of the agreement before voting on it.
The mayor went so far as to suggest that the vote on the TIF be postponed until the Plat deal is also complete. City Administrator Ben Martig and Director Baker both warned against the idea. The apartment complex has faced cost increases of more than $2 million since its first proposal last spring. The postponement of the deal would mean that the Stencil Group, which is the developer of the building, would not be able to finalize its main financing, prepare the construction documents or order the construction materials before the start of the construction season. construction.
The Kraewood project was controversial from the start. The 100-unit, two-dozen-unit building will be built on the former Paulsen Tree farm and has been met with stiff resistance from residents of surrounding neighborhoods. A collaboration between the Stencil Group, Rebound Partners and Schmidt Homes, developers had hoped to break ground last fall, but delays forced them to revise the construction schedule several times.
Nate Stencil, the owner of The Stencil Group, joined the conversation to express serious concern that any further delays could force his company to cancel the project.
“It’s the craziest I’ve seen in 23 years doing this. I really don’t know what our costs will be from week to week, let alone month to month. Every day new price increases are on top of old price increases we really want to push this forward one way or another next week and if that means it doesn’t work for the city, for a some reason, I guess I can live with that. But I can’t live with being here in March and April talking about it.”
Despite Nakasian and Pownell’s concerns, the TIF deal is expected to remain on the agenda for next Tuesday’s meeting. Mayor Pownell said she hopes staff will be ready to answer any questions about the project, the agreement and the approval process.
Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting will be held in the Council Chambers of City Hall. It will start at 6 p.m.
Healthy Community Initiative looking for council and committee
The Healthy Community Initiative (HCI) is currently accepting applications for positions on the HCI Board of Directors, as well as various Committees. HCI Board members serve three-year terms, beginning in September. Members of the HCI committee serve for one year.
Formed in 1992, Healthy Community Initiative is a council-led coalition of community leaders, youth, parents and school representatives. Their stated mission is “to cultivate a collaborative community that supports, values and empowers young people.” To achieve this, the organization works with community partners to foster collaboration and support community efforts that benefit youth and families in the Northfield area.
The HCI Board of Directors meets from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. HCI committees currently meet monthly in a virtual format. A statement released by HCI says the schedule is set to take into account members’ availability.
To nominate someone, or even yourself, to the Board of Directors, and for more information, please contact HCI at 507-664-3524 or [email protected].