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Northfield approves downtown apartment development

The Northfield City Council approved a plan to create a redevelopment district in downtown Northfield where a new four-story, 79-unit apartment complex will be constructed.

At an Oct. 1 Council meeting, the city identified several goals for the redevelopment of the district, paramount of which is meeting the demand for market-rate housing. The apartment complex is also part of a broader set of goals to revitalize much of the area surrounding the Cannon River and downtown Northfield.

The Fifth Street Lofts apartment complex is the primary construction project in the district, located on the southeast corner of the intersection of Fifth and Washington Streets. The four-story complex will consist of 79 apartments for rent, of which 33 will be studio, 38 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom. The complex will include fitness facilities on the first floor, along with a two-story, underground parking garage that can be accessed from Fifth Street.

The estimated costs of renting space range from $820 per month for studio apartments to $1,600 per month for a two-bedroom.

The City Council permitted a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan to subsidize development of the district, which will occupy both the southeast and northeast corners of the Fifth and Washington intersection.

The TIF plan, which allows project developers Rebound Real Estate and Stencil Group to retain property taxes accrued on the apartment complex, will generate an estimated $4.2 million over the 25-year span of the district, according to Ehlers and Associates, the private firm responsible for financing the project.

The developers had identified a $1.8 million shortfall on the project, which the TIF plan accounts for.

Premier Bank currently occupies the southwest lot of the district where the apartment complex will be constructed, alongside a home owned by Mainstreet Properties. Both buildings have been deemed “substandard” and in need of redevelopment by an outside investment group.

The continuance of TIF financing is contingent upon the completion of construction and the achievement of full occupancy for the apartment complex by spring 2021, according to Ehlers and Associates. Construction will begin later this year.

The construction of a new, modern apartment complex in downtown Northfield will increase land density, increase square footage in the downtown area and address an observed housing shortage, said City Council and Economic Development Authority member Jessica Peterson White.

“It’s an exciting project. It has been clearly identified that there is a need,” Mayor of Northfield Rhonda Powell said. “This is just a fantastic opportunity for our community.”

marand1@stolaf.edu