This parcel of land on the corner of Twiford and Division, just off Main Street, will someday be developed into commercial property. The infrastructure improvements that are necessary will be made possible through a grant from the Department of Employment and Economic Development.
This parcel of land on the corner of Twiford and Division, just off Main Street, will someday be developed into commercial property. The infrastructure improvements that are necessary will be made possible through a grant from the Department of Employment and Economic Development.
It's a beautiful day for a neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighborhood, a beautiful day for the neighbors...

Especially when the neighborhood gets $233,611.

Chris Giesen, representing Chatfield's economic development authority (EDA), explained the city of Chatfield received a grant of $233,611 from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. These funds will be used to redevelop the peninsula of land outlined by Main, Twiford and Division streets that lies just across the road from the former Kwik Trip gas station and just southeast of the Sunshine Foods parking lot.

He stated that the parcel of land in question has been slated for redevelopment for nearly two decades, but that up until now, there were few funds and no real catalyst to transform the triangular plot into useful commercial land.

"I can probably only speak to recent history, but it's my understanding that the northern Main Street corridor has been identified in the city's comprehensive plan and zoning code for potential retail development since the early 1990s," Giesen elaborated. "I also understand that correcting the public infrastructure issues that currently exist at the Twiford site have long been on the city engineer's wish list of projects. We were contacted in late 2012 by a real estate group whose client - a national retail variety store - was interested in locating on the site. Having a serious retail development prospect and the state grant funds provided the needed catalyst."

The city purchased properties on the block over the past several years to assure that a sizable parcel of land could be created for future commercial use and to fulfill the comprehensive plan's outline.

"As properties became available on that block, the EDA did purchase them in order to assemble the larger parcel that was needed for the development," Giesen cited.

The project entails moving and upgrading city water and sewer lines that currently run through the middle of the block and surrounding properties and dealing with topographical issues.

Giesen explained, "The topography of the area poses a challenge - as most people know there is a huge change in elevation from Grove Street to Division Street."

Engineering for the redevelopment has not yet started, Giesen said, except some preliminary estimates. This is because, he added, "It will be driven by when we sign a purchase agreement with the prospective (buyer)."

Giesen noted, "We are still working out a purchase agreement with the developer, but if all goes well, we hope to begin work next spring, or as soon as possible."

He also pointed out that receiving a DEED grant of nearly $235,000 is significant.

"We were one of seven projects funded in the state. It's always rewarding to see Chatfield's name on a very short list of grant recipients alongside the biggest cities in the state - Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth," he added.

The application for DEED funding was completed this summer and the city was pleased to announce that it was a recipient of the grant.

"We had to show a change in use - hence 'redevelopment' - a community need, additional tax base and job creation. We can only use the state funds for public infrastructure, but we also had to show that those public improvements would result in private development," Giesen explained. "The process wasn't overly difficult - it just took some time to organize all of the documentation."

The city and EDA are currently working with the developer to identify the other sources of funds to complete the financial package, Giesen said. "We did utilize some of the Rochester sales tax funds that the city received this year for purchasing property. We expect to recover the initial investment and then have those funds be available for other projects in the community."

Giesen listed the benefits of redeveloping the Main and Twiford plot using DEED funds.

"This will be a tremendous savings for Chatfield residents and any businesses that will develop in the area...it eliminates some long-standing issues that made it difficult for development," he explained. "Not only will this project address those long-standing public infrastructure issues, it will also promote further growth and development, both residential and commercial, in the area."

He concluded, "The EDA is here to help...we're trying to leverage the assets that we have as a community to improve everyone's quality of life and ability to live, work, play and relax in Chatfield."