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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • School board approves land sale for housing

  • Redwood Industries has reached an agreement to purchase a piece of land from the Redwood Area School District that includes seven acres north of the school it plans to use for twin homes, with the potential for additional construction if another development plan on a portion of that land does not come to fruition.
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  • Housing continues to be an issue in Redwood Falls. With recent business expansion projects in the works the demand for housing is only going to increase. When concerns were raised in the recent past, an organization stepped in by putting up a housing development on the south side of the community. It appears that group is going to get involved again. Known as Redwood Industries, the for-profit group has reached an agreement to purchase a piece of land from the Redwood Area School District that includes seven acres north of the school it plans to use for twin homes, with the potential for additional construction if another development plan on a portion of that land does not come to fruition. In late 2013, the Redwood Area School District entered into a purchase agreement with Trident Development, LLC. for the purchase of part of that land, with the development company working on a plan to erect apartment complexes on the site. As of the May 19 regular meeting of the school board, action had been slow on that project as Trident leadership continued to seek funding for its project. “We want to buy the entire property do our project and then see what happens on the other side,” said Bob LeSage, Redwood Industries treasurer during a discussion with the school board at its recent meeting. The land Redwood Industries plans to develop its twin homes on is two acres in size, with the other five acres, minus land for road development and infrastructure, set aside for the Trident project. According to Rick Ellingworth, the Trident project had been proposed as one that would not require any subsidies. As time went on the school district was asked to approve the creation of a TIF district on that land, which would have reduced the tax amount paid on that land for a period of time. According to LeSage, Redwood Industries was established in 1964 by a group of investors from Redwood Falls who wanted to help improve the opportunities for business development. One of its major projects over time was the industrial park, and more recently it was involved in the Aspenwood housing development project. “We were a bit inactive until we saw the need for housing in town,” said LeSage, adding Redwood Industries believes there is a demand for the kind of homes they would be erecting. The homes would be approximately 1,700 square feet in size and would likely rent in the $900-950 range. There is also the option to purchase the homes. The sale of the land to Redwood Industries, was approved 5-1 by the board, with John Salmon voting against the proposal. It essentially takes the school district out the land sale business – an activity the school board believes it should not be in. While Salmon argued there was a chance to perhaps increase the sale price, which was $140,000, the rest of the board said the big picture of having the homes bring in families with kids who would be enrolled in the district was a good investment. Tom Hollatz, board member, said the school board was approached by Trident for a loan for the project, and he said the land committee determined that was not something the school district could responsibly or legally do. This is a way to support Trident without giving them a loan,” said Hollatz, adding the project means there is going to be housing in the community helping to meet the demand, which is very important. An agreement based on trust was addressed ensuring the land would be used for quality housing, and LeSage said the reputation of Redwood Industries should speak for itself. In other action, the school board: • Approved a summer hours schedule that includes a change of hours June 9 through Aug. 1. Hours of operation for the district office are from 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday
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