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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • Green streets

  • New construction techniques are opening up acres of land near town to development while still protecting wetlands areas.
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  • Back in the 1970s, a group of area businessmen bought acres of land on the northeast edge of Redwood Falls and zoned it to encourage manufacturers to locate to the town.
    Today the area features such streets as Industrial Drive and Quality Drive, and is home of such businesses as RVI, Schult Homes, and BBC Distribution, among others.
    However, there were two 17 acre lots that couldn’t be developed because of environmental concerns.
    Years ago, the businessmen donated those lots to the city of Redwood Falls in hopes the city could figure out something to do with them.
    As it happens, it was two local businessmen who finally worked out how to develop the lots while still preserving their environmental qualities.
    At the March 5 city council meeting, the city sold the acreage to Pete and Mike U’Ren for $90,000.
    The earthmoving equipment was out the next day.
    It all began around last Christmas, when two  local businesses both wanted to expand.
    Mike U’Ren said last week, “We’ve already owned a warehouse on Industrial Drive for the last 14 years that was being used by Steel Properties.”
    However, the warehouse was also being shared by BBC Distribution, which liked the location right next to Schult Homes to the east.
    When Steel Properties offered to buy the entire Industrial Drive warehouse from the U’Rens, BBC Distribution would have been out of its Redwood Falls facility, which provides building supplies for a six-state area.
    The U’Ren brothers suggested a compromise: they would buy the undeveloped city property north of Schult Homes and build a new, 43,000 square foot warehouse to for BBC Distribution.
    The problem is that land was undeveloped for a reason: large chunks were designated wetlands, and companies weren’t allowed to build on them.
    Enter “green construction.”
    “We’ve been working very closely with the Soil and Water Department to design ‘green streets’, rain gardens. Years ago, they would have just filled in those wetlands.”
    BBC Distribution is scheduled to move into its new facility on May 1, less than six months after the idea was first proposed.
    By government red-tape terms, that’s an astoundingly short time frame, especially given the environmental concerns about the land.
    “The council has been very cooperative,” said Mike U’Ren. “Steel Properties made their offer to buy our building around Christmas, and everything has happened on an amazingly fast schedule.
    “We’ve not side-stepped on any issue. We’re working with the landscape, not changing it,” said U’Ren.
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