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.”

Contact Managing Editor Tim Hennagir at [email protected]

  • patti m

    Are you serious? How many of the members of council are actual Monticello residents of years? I can think of only 3… about those that work at city hall……Jeff being one of them……SERIOUSLY? A high end condo/apartments? This area should be preserved/useful for LOCAL residents that have been here forever. Why should we not get to enjoy this area of beauty? Why not build a beautiful restraunt for many people to enjoy? People would comes from miles……you build it, they will come! A park? Water park? Come on…….Monticello should be focusing on Monticelloans……

  • Monticello Resident

    We can only hope that the council won’t make the same mistake twice. Remember when council approved to rezone industrial land to commercial so that Fleet Farm could purchase land in Monticello? I think the council was money hungry for tax base as a revenue source. Here we sit today how many years later (5 or 6?) and no Fleet Farm is here. The city is not getting additional property tax base from that empty lot and they upset many of the industrial property owners in the process of rezoning. Mistake. Hope they learned something from that process. Have some vision and preserve the Monte Club Hill for its best use even it requires waiting for the right development to occur. Oh, and council people – don’t spend money you don’t have to prevent a desperate land decision made for the wrong reasons.

  • Paulette Aleckson

    No apartments. I like the idea of a nice restruant or waterpark.

  • Dave Gast

    The Monticlub was a destination spot-that hilltop has value multi-family will be overbuilt again

  • Lora Krahn

    Do we – the citizens of Monticello get a say in this. Please seek citizen input on this issue. That hilltop is a speacial place NO apartments!

  • Ray Clark

    I’m not sure why the city is discussing selling the property for development in the first place….? There shouldn’t be anything up there besides a city park where we can enjoy peaceful views of Monticello! This is a landmark that should be preserved. No apartments, no waterpark, no restaurant, just a beautiful park that we all can enjoy! I can’t believe this is a discussion it truly is amazing what people will do for money. All residents of Monticello should start a petition to preserve the area and make it a city park.

    Mayor Herbst please do what you can to preserve this area. This is a very special place for the city and it deserves a chance to be a city landmark.

  • Ray Clark
  • 40 Year Monticello Resident

    This whole “idea” is ridiculous! That hill is what Monticello is named after! Italian for “little mountain”. Go ahead and develop the area, and while our city government is at it, submit a request to the State of Minnesota for a City name change! I suggest we rename Monticello “Apartmentwithaviewville”, or “Icanseebiglakefromhere”, or how about we get the residents involved so we can remind the City that there are other people that live here and actually care about Monticello’s history! Like I said, it’s what our City is!