First private development in mall area awarded Renaissance Zone tax break

Moorhead City Council

The first private development to be launched within the footprint of the Moorhead Center Mall won a 15-year property tax break Monday.
Sterling Development Group Four LLC, headed by architect Kevin Bartram, was awarded the exemption for the construction of a four-story, two-building multi-use complex that will be known as 650 Center. Construction is expected to being in May on the $25 million project. It will be located on the east end of the block where the Center Mall is being torn down, from the east side of the vacant United Sugars building to Seventh Street North.
Over its term, the Renaissance Zone property tax exemption is estimated to amount to about $3.5 million. However, it will have no impact on the revenue the city currently receives from the property. While tax on the new building will be deferred, the owners will continue to be assessed on the bare land’s current value.
The exemption, which council members unanimously approved, will begin at 100% during the complex’s first five years. It decreases over the latter 10 years, first to 75% in years six through 10, and then to 50% for the final five-year period.

Major road projects OKed for summer
The coming months will bring even more construction to the city during the summer construction season. The council held hearings on three sizable projects to rehabilitate city streets and replace some underground utilities near the EasTen Shopping Center, Robert Asp Elementary School and Concordia College. Together, the budgets for all three – including various degrees of repair, from simple mill-and-overlay to reconstruction – total nearly $7 million. A portion of the cost will be covered by special assessments on residences, with the bulk of the investment coming from city funds.
The project near EasTen includes Fourth Avenue North from 28th to 30th Streets, and 30th from Second to Fourth Avenue. The avenue will undergo mill-and-overlay repair, in which the top 2 inches of pavement is milled off and replaced with a new layer of bituminous surface. It typ8ically extends the life of the pavement for 20 to 30 years. The street, though, is slated for rehabilitation. That means the full depth of the pavement and gravel base will be removed and replaced. Curb and gutter is generally retained. Sidewalks and crossings will be repaired as needed, including installation of ADA-required ramps at the corners. Underground utilities in the EasTen area will not be affected.
The second undertaking focuses on the area around Robert Asp School. It includes Sixth Avenue North from Ninth to 14th streets, and with 14th Street itself. Rehabilitation is recommended for the areas where the condition requires it, with mill-and-overlay used in spots with less damage. Some pavement patching will also take place. Some sidewalks require repair. Moorhead Public Service plans to replace 10 blocks of sewer and water mains; Xcel Energy will also replace 15 blocks of gas mains.
The oldest streets and utilities are in the third area north of Concordia, including Fourth and Fifth Avenues and Sixth Street. All were originally built of concrete. Fifth Avenue and the street were treated with gravel and bituminous overlays in 1955 and 1970, and Fourth Avenue got the same treatment in 1992. All of the water mains in the area are cast iron and assumed to be in poor condition.
While the city reconstructs the streets above ground, MPS plans to replace the cast-iron water mains. Some lead pipes also need replacement, an issue that concerned several residents who spoke during the hearing. Their concern: That lead in the pipes will escape into the water supply during replacement.
City engineer Robert Zimmerman .noted that MPS plans extensive monitoring and testing during the project to avoid lead-contaminated water. Some of the water lines in question, however, are on private property, and their cost can’t be covered with city funding.
MPS General Manager Travis Schmidt noted that replacement of the lines on private property may be covered with funding from the state Department of Health. Rules and procedures for securing that support, however, are still unclear. “They still haven’t figured out how to do it, because it would be spending public funds for private infrastructure,” he said. MPS staffers are working with the state to determine how to move forward.

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