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Down to the details

Tower Harbor town home project close to launch

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TOWER— It’s down to the details with the town home project at the city’s harbor. With the funding nearly all in place, and close to a third of planned town homes either sold or nearly so, the first major development around the city’s harbor appears set to begin actual construction later this year. And the city and the developers were focused on the fine details of the project during a meeting at city hall this week.

Details like the cost and management of boat slips, who would cut the grass and maintain the vegetation, and who would issue the actual building permits. They are the kind of questions that highlight the progress over the past year as Orlyn Kringstad and his Tower Vision 2025 organization move quietly to the launch pad on their multi-million dollar project. Kringstad said his team is now on track to have foundations built and initial structures in place by late fall and early winter, which will allow his construction team to finish much of the interior work over the winter months. The first new town homes should be ready for buyers to move in as early as mid-2018, with the rest expected to follow shortly.

And Kringstad hopes to begin work shortly thereafter on the next phase, which includes a restaurant and as many as ten upstairs apartments located near the East Two River rapids. A small retail complex at the opposite end of the harbor would also be built as soon as prospective tenants are identified.

It’s been a long time coming. City officials and the late Rep. Jim Oberstar held a groundbreaking for the harbor project back in 2007, just before the financial collapse brought most real estate investment to a halt for several years. But times have changed and after more than a year of work, Kringstad’s team now has the pieces in place.

It turns out that Kringstad’s Norwegian connections paid dividends for the project. One of his partners, Lars Hanstad, of Lillehammer, Norway, not only invested in the project, he brought another Norwegian friend into the project as well and the two of them comprise a significant percentage of the private investment in the project. Hanstad, the current CEO of Glamitec, also brought substantial business expertise to the venture.

The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board is also bringing considerable funding to the table, providing the city with $350,000 for roads and other related site prep for the project. The agency is also providing a $125,000 grant to the Tower Economic Development Authority, which is earmarked for a small funding gap loan to the project.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development is also expected to provide about $220,000 towards the project, although that award is not yet certain. The city expects that all project-related roadwork, utility extension, and site prep will cost $570,000. While DEED has not yet committed to its share, the agency has given favorable indications in the past. DEED did take back $400,000 in harbor-related funding in 2013, for expected harbor development that didn’t materialize. “There was always the understanding that we would come back for that at a later point,” said Tower Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith.

Kringstad said he may still receive additional private investment, but that any extra funds would go towards advancing the timeline on either the town homes or the restaurant and apartments. “Any additional investment will simply speed up the development,” he said.

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