Monticello EDA will interview firms interested in downtown development study

The Monticello Economic Development Authority (EDA) has set a date to interview firms that are interested in completing a small area study of the city’s downtown.

The concept for completion of a small area study arose from a June EDA strategy session, at which the EDA members present placed downtown redevelopment as the top priority or focus area for the near future, Community Development Director Angela Schumann and Economic Development Manager Jim Thares explained in a background memo.

It was discussed during the strategy session and in other EDA meetings that given recent changes and investments within the core downtown commercial district, the land use components of the city’s previously developed “Embracing Downtown” Plan required review.

In July, the EDA authorized the preparation of a request for proposal (RFP) for consideration. The EDA indicated at that time that the update for the land use component of the plan should not be extensive and, given the investment in the Embracing Downton Plan, consideration should be given to project cost.

The EDA also felt a market perspective on any land use concept was critical. According to Schumann and Thares, the RFP is limited in scope in terms of both focus and geographic area.

The small area to be studied includes the four corners at the intersection of Highway 25 and County Road 75, and includes additional blocks to the west of Highway 25.

The study will focus on development of three alternative land use concepts, then requires that they be analyzed by developers for feasibility.

City staff estimates the study will cost approximately $45,000 to $55,000 to complete.

Previously, Schumann confirmed a hotel study would be included in the resources portion of the RFP prepared by the three firms that will be interviewed on Nov. 29.

Thares stated that all EDA members will be asked to attend a public interview meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29. Members of the city council will also attend.

Three final RFPs proposals were selected, Thares recently confirmed, adding that the interviews will probably last 35 to 40 minutes for each firm that submitted an RFP.

During the EDA’s Nov. 9 meeting, Thares also provided an update on three other development items.

He reported that a large international manufacturing firm is seeking 35 to 60 acres in Monticello for its business.

The unnamed company is interested in a location in northwest Monticello. If the company does select Monticello, it would bring 700 jobs and a $265 million dollar investment to the community.

Thares also reported that a high-tech precision machining firm is still reviewing site and financial assistance program information provided by Monticello city staff.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), the state’s principal economic development agency, is coordinating the site search for the large international firm.

“Monticello is still in the running,” Thares said. “They [the company] asked for land prices. We should be hearing something back from them by the end of November.”

Thares also reported that the high-tech precision machining firm is also a DEED prospect, and had asked city staff how quickly a new building could be built in the Otter Creek Industrial Park.

“There’s some platting that would have to be completed [with them]. They’re still in the loop and communicating with us,” he said.

Finally, Thares reported that city economic development staff has had additional meeting with Groebner, Inc. discussing site and building options for a new facility in Otter Creek Park that would also include outside storage.

Potential funding assistance packages were also reviewed with Groebner, Thares said.

“We’ve had good meetings with them,” Thares said. “They are open to finding a site and not leaving Monticello, and working on an arrangement that meets their needs. They do have a little bit of outside storage. Probably the next thing is to talk to them about trying to bring that all under one roof to offset the cost of the additional square footage for that building.”

Thares said Groebner wanted 50 percent of their 30,000 square foot building to be outside storage.

“We are going to work with them and bring a package back for EDA review in December,” he said. “They are kind of eager to get going. They employe 25 people right now and would add 10 or 11 new jobs.”

EDA Vice President Bill Tapper said it would take a significant amount of money to put 15,000 square feet under cover. “You are talking about a million dollars.”

Thares replied, “Two other parcels in the old Oakwood Industrial Park don’t work. Their other option will be to look at another parcel that’s not in Otter Creek.”

Contact Tim Hennagir at [email protected]