July 21, 2023 at 11:07 a.m.
Center City sees revitalization
Center City is undergoing a level of revival with plans approved by council for re-use and improvements at the old Grand Avenue motel site, and rehab efforts beginning to take obvious shape at the 100-year-old big brick structure on main street. Owner Kevin Kirvida told council he acquired this building about three years ago and most of what he’s been doing has been related to structural integrity. Tuckpointing, new windows and cleaning of the exterior are moving along, but council was approached about tapping into municipal sewer.
The parcel has access to two “stubs” potentially for city sewer and Kirvida wanted the city involved in how this progressed. He owns the parcel and legally could hook-up using whichever stub he chooses, but wondered if the city has a preference. (There were two legal lots that have been combined.)
The planning commission will review the situation in a meeting and advise council for action in August. There’s also a request for the city to look into whether anything done when installing sidewalk blocked this parcel’s outlet to the storm drain system.
The council was told the community has been very supportive and inquisitive about the work being done. Kirvida said somebody stops by almost daily to learn more and give the project a thumbs-up. His intention, he stated, is to house a collector car showroom and possibly vintage vehicle service center in the structure, which would piggyback nicely on the site’s previous use as Moody’s Car Sales and Service.
Meanwhile, on the southside of Highway 8 the bungalow motel is being redone. The dwelling on the site will also be inhabited. Developer Nic Kirvida got approval for several actions—a Comp Plan revision/rezone from business district to low density residential, and a variance on impervious surface percentages exceeding the 25 percent allowed in ordinance. He also got the okay for lot line setback and lot size variances.
The MN Dept. of Natural Resources has signed off and the city planning commission recommended the requests.
This redevelopment site began life as “Grand Shores” but that plan fizzled and it is being dubbed “Nordic Harbor” with this replatting, of what had formerly been proposed as a motel teardown and new duplex units.
Also, Center City’s mall owner Tom Bui is anticipating a Fiesta Cancun restaurant bar, and he wants to install a patio area on the south end of the mall. He was approved contingent on city legal staff drafting an access agreement to any underground infrastructure and the patio can’t result in a loss of parking spaces.
Next door at what has been the Swenson’s supper club-Grumpy Minnow-Hodge Lodge, a new owner got approval for a mid-year liquor license transfer.
Jason Schultz told council it may require a few weeks until the new “Jake’s on the Lake” opens but things are coming together. This is an “industry pivot” for him personally, coming from a career in medical technology and I-T. He grew up outside of Center City and he says he’s looking forward to contributing to the future of this area.
A quote from Bluhm Contracting for street repairs was approved. The cost is $12,000 approximately. Midco Communications is contributing $1,000 to fix a trench that damaged Burns Avenue that was supposed to have been directionally bored underground.
There was discussion about applying for state money available to assist small cities in identifying lead service lines in older water systems. Council was advised lines were put in around 1965 (previously the city residents had wells) and all service to buildings should be copper, and the watermains are ductile iron. But, council will advise the city engineer to monitor the state aid and grant availability should the need to inventory lead services arise. Public Works Supervisor Eric Garner said homes he’s been inside of have all had copper coming in.
The state legislature approved (HF24 and SF30) to eliminate lead in water lines by 2033. Public water supplies have to be checked for lead service lines (LSL) by 2024. Cities continue to test for lead content in water samples which has been part of the drinking water reports for years. An estimated 100,000 to 260,000 homes are receiving water in leaded service lines.