Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Town home construction project could face delays

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 7/12/17

TOWER— Construction on the planned townhome project at the city’s harbor may not get underway by October as originally planned— and that could push the project back by several months depending …

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Town home construction project could face delays

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TOWER— Construction on the planned townhome project at the city’s harbor may not get underway by October as originally planned— and that could push the project back by several months depending on weather conditions later this year.

Under a new timeline issued by the city this past week, Tower Vision 2025, the company undertaking the project, will have until Monday, July 17, to submit at least five signed purchase agreements, which is the threshold for the city to commission final design work and bidding documents for the infrastructure as well as begin the permitting process with the state’s Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources. The project will require permits for stormwater runoff and wetland impact along the west side of the development.

The new schedule would push the start of road and utility construction at the site back until mid-November, with construction of the townhomes beginning in mid-December, weather permitting. But even this new schedule is likely to be delayed as the city and the developer have yet to come to an understanding on the installation and management of docks to serve the townhomes, as well as the monthly fee for slip rental.

According to Tower Vision 2025 founder Orlyn Kringstad, prospective buyers need to know the full cost of ownership, including the monthly fees that the project’s homeowners association will assess on residents. And Tower Vision can’t offer a definitive answer on that question until the dock rental issue is resolved.

The city council did provide some clarity to the issue this week, indicating that it wants the city to own and maintain the docks. The council also set the seasonal slip rental at $850.

The city’s harbor committee has been discussing what to do about docks for months, with some officials arguing for city ownership as a potential source of revenue and to give the city greater control over the condition of the docks. It’s not clear, however, that the docks would provide a revenue windfall for the city. A recent estimate pegged the cost for installation of the 20-stall dock system at $240,000, an estimate that does not include extending water or electric service to the docks. Kringstad said having electrical service is important, since most boats have batteries that need regular charging.

Kringstad and Jeremy Schoenfelder, the project’s master developer, have indicated that only about half of the prospective townhome buyers appear to be interested in keeping a boat at the harbor. But even if all twenty slips are rented to townhome owners, it would generate no more than $17,000 annually, which would require nearly 20 years for the city to recoup the cost of installation and interest on revenue bonds that would likely be needed to pay for it.

Kringstad and Schoenfelder were unavailable for comment on the city’s latest position. The issue is expected to come up for further discussion at the city’s harbor committee meeting on July 17.

The delay in a final decision on the docking issue appears to be the final sticking point preventing Tower Vision from completing its homeowners’ association documents, and beginning final sales in earnest. The company recently retained Mark and Sally Ludlow, owners of BIC Realty, to handle sales and marketing, which includes the recent installation of prominent signage along Hwy. 169 at the entrance to Tower.

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