The New Richmond City Council held its monthly meeting Monday night, Jan. 10.

Beebe demolition scheduled 

The summer of 2018 was anything but comfortable for city of New Richmond officials. City officials repeatedly denied speculation that a deal had been struck in private with Beebe Building namesake and owner Jim Beebe to purchase the property. 

When the city stepped in to coordinate the relocation of 46 people living in the Lowry Hotel at the time just ahead of the hotel’s lease ending in August, suspicion persisted. Then in December, the city purchased the property from Beebe for $300,000, about half of the assessed value. 

After four years off the tax rolls, all the frustration and questions will be buried in a cloud of dust and debris as the next chapter for the property at 307 S. Knowles Ave. begins when the Beebe Building finally comes down in February.

If an attempt to qualify for tax credits had succeeded in 2019, Gerrard Corporation, chosen to partner with the city to redevelop the Beebe property, would have been preparing for the grand opening of 40 living units this spring in 2022.

Instead, Plan B. 

  • Council members approved an amendment to the zoning ordinance pertaining to short-term rentals. The amendment puts in place a licensing process whereby applicants would pay a $50 annual fee. The fee would cover administrative costs to insure that the applicant has proof of licensure through St. Croix County. The county has an extensive licensing process in place that ensures compliance with both county and state statutes pertaining to short-term rentals.

  • Council members approved a design and construction agreement with SEH Inc. for 2022 street and utility projects in the amount of $155,100. Projects include reconstruction of Oak Avenue (from East Third Street to East Fifth Street) and North Fourth Street (from CTH K to approximately 44 feet east of Brigetta Drive).

In November 2020, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago awarded $1.5M in two $750,000 loans through its Affordable Housing Program to acquire and construct 100 units of new rental housing in New Richmond. 50 of those units belong to the Dakota Meadows development and the other 50 to the Beebe Building development, both are being constructed and managed by the Gerrard Corporation.

Monday night, Council members approved Resolution #012201 creating Tax Increment District No. 11. 

“Tax Increment District 11 encompasses the property that we refer to as the Beebe Building. The TID is being created to help support the redevelopment of this area that would build a 50 unit age 55 plus housing complex downtown,” said Assistant City Administrator and Finance Director Rae Ann Ailts. 

The two primary reasons for creating the tax district are to reimburse the city for the purchase of the property including interest (2.50%) and to pay for costs associated with the development of the new property.

Ehlers representative Sean Lentz explained that because the tax district is being created several years after the city had already purchased the property, a unique solution had to be created in order to reimburse the city for its purchase. 

“We’ve put together a strategy where we involve the Community Development Authority in the development agreement. Through a process, they will acquire the property from the city. Then using the tax increment revenue in the future, we will ultimately be able to reimburse the city for the original cost it outlayed to acquire the property initially,” explained Lentz. 

The Contribution to the Community Development Authority of $350,000 will be executed with an advance from other city funds in 2022. The advance will be repaid over the life of the tax increment district with interest estimated at 2.50%.   

In addition to reimbursing the city for its purchase of the property, the development agreement will specify that tax increment revenue will be used to make annual payments to the developer to assist  them in recouping costs associated with making this development successful. Categorized as development incentives, these will be allocated on a pay-as-you-go basis from 70% of the available increment revenues generated by the Beebe Building redevelopment for an amount not-to-exceed $1,550,000. 

Development Incentives will begin in 2025 as the first revenues become available from the project.

The term of Tax Increment District 11 is projected to be 27 years, closing in 2050. 

The tax district must still be approved by the Joint Review Board consisting of the other taxing authorities, St. Croix County, New Richmond School District and Northwood Technical College. The physical demolition of the building is scheduled to begin in early February. Weeks leading up to the razing will be used to address buried tanks, asbestos abatement and any remaining salvage operations. Street closures are not expected; however, sidewalks will be impacted by a 6-foot-high chain link fence being erected as a protective barrier. Demolition is expected to be completed by March.

Dairy Queen site proposal

Following the closed session at the Jan. 10 council meeting, City Administrator Noah Wiedenfeld announced the council had approved a proposal by the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce to acquire and develop the former Dairy Queen property. 

Forward New Richmond reviewed two proposals in response to the city’s request for proposals and recommended moving the Chamber’s proposal forward. 

“The Chamber is seeking to build a small office building on that site. They are proposing to have multiple tenants or condos that would be owned. One issue that will need to be addressed in the developer's agreement is that the city wants to see some tax revenue generated from that site,” Wiedenfeld said.

Tom Lindfors is a western Wisconsin freelance journalist and former Star-Observer reporter. Contact him at tom@lindforsphoto.com

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