City leaders listen to Monte Club Hill apartment proposal

This aerial site image shows the Monte Club Hill site and the parcels owned by the city of Monticello. Three parcels totaling approximately 10.12 acres could be sold by the city for future development. IRET Properties is interested in building a high-end, a multi-family apartment complex on the three parcels. (Map Graphic Courtesy City of Monticello)

Monticello City Council members weren’t sold on a developer’s initial proposal for a multi-family apartment complex on Monte Club Hill, the city’s primary geographic landmark.
City leaders considered sale and development options for the historic city-owned property during a March 11 workshop with IRET Properties representatives.
The city of Monticello currently owns five parcels on Monte Club Hill.
Two of the parcels (10 acres) are currently used for water tower infrastructure and parkland.
The three other parcels that were acquired with the development of the Jefferson Commons/River City Extreme project total approximately 10.12 acres.
According to City Administrator Jeff O’Neill and Community Development Director Angela Schumann. the southernmost Monte Club Hill parcels are those most likely to be developable, as they were the site of the club and its parking fields, although grade changes on the parcels will likely affect area access and development plans on site.
The northern parcel is densely wooded with steep variations in topography.
Earlier this winter, the city was contacted by IRET Properties regarding the possibility of developing a new multi-family apartment complex within Monticello.
Information on a number of potential sites was provided to IRET.
“The Monte Club Hill site rose to the top of their list of locations of interest,” O’Neill and Schumann wrote in a background memo to council.
In late January, IRET representatives met with city staff and Mayor Clint Herbst to discuss their company, development concept and the site in more detail.
During the March 11 workshop, IRET sought feedback from the city council on its willingness to sell the property for development involving a “high-end, multi-family product,” namely apartments.
IRET works with design-build firms to develop such projects, which IRET ultimately owns and manages for the long-term.
Andy Martin is a senior vice president with Investors Real Estate Trust Properties. IRET owns and operates income-producing multi-family residential and commercial properties mostly in Minnesota and North Dakota.
The equity real estate investment trust is based in Minot, N.D. and has additional offices in Minneapolis and Omaha, Neb. IRET currently owns and manages Monticello Village Apartments. “It’s been a very nice performing asset for us,” Martin said.
Hilgart asked Martin about the maximum number of apartment units IRET was considering for the proposed Monte Club Hill site development.”We could build anywhere from 80 to 130 units,” Martin said. Hilgart said he “wasn’t necessarily convinced” he would want apartments built on the site. Stumpf said he wasn’t convinced, either. Herbst replied: “It’s the ideal spot for it.” Stumpf wondered about other types of development. “I’d like to see some commercial up there, but I don’t think it will fit in anymore,” he said. Councilmember Tom Perrault was willing to consider development. Councilmember Glen Posusta said he would like to see condominiums or other high-end housing developed, similar to what was originally proposed for the site. “Once you develop apartments, that’s all you will get,” Posusta said. Hilgart and Herbst were also concerned about a project footprint. Hilgart added: “I’m not totally opposed. I just need more information.”
O’Neill reminded council members they had adopted a new ordinance in January that would allow higher density multi-family housing within the city under a rigorous set of performance standards. Projects such as the apartments proposed by IRET would be allowable in a residential district, but the city would first need to rezone property to establish such a district, and in some cases, including the Monte Club site, the city would need to amend its comprehensive plan.
O’Neill said it was clear at the end of the workshop the council hadn’t reached consensus on IRET’s initial development concepts for Monte Club Hill. Herbst suggested Martin and IRET continue to work with Schumann to better understand site development and planning considerations that would need to be addressed if the project discussions moved ahead. O’Neill and Schumann stated a similar recommendation within their agenda background. “Development will forever change the site, for better or worse,” they wrote. “Staff recommends taking a small detour to allow for a council planning process which clearly defines the city’s goals for the site. Providing clear direction on site development parameters will lead to a smoother process for the developer, whoever that may be.”

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