Pickerel Park Townhomes a go

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 22, 1999

A ground breaking ceremony held Wednesday morning symbolized a go ahead for Pickerel Park Townhomes, a rental complex for low- to moderate-income families.

Friday, October 22, 1999

A ground breaking ceremony held Wednesday morning symbolized a go ahead for Pickerel Park Townhomes, a rental complex for low- to moderate-income families.

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&uot;Never before have we worked with individuals of such caliber,&uot; Newbury Development President James Levy told those who attended the ceremony. Newbury will build the townhomes.

Levy and others involved in the project expressed gratitude for the community’s support.

&uot;We look forward to continuing a relationship with everyone involved,&uot; Levy said.

&uot;The key word that keeps coming up is partnering,&uot; said Bob Porter of the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.

MHFA which will provide a matching grant of $10,000 and will allocate $183,317 in housing tax credits annually over a 10-year period.

Ruth Domack, president of Heartland Properties, Inc., an Alliant Energy Company, considered the ground breaking &uot;a celebration of very hard work.&uot;

Heartland Properties, a subsidiary of Alliant, will purchase the federal housing tax credits issued for Pickerel Park Townhomes and will become a limited partner in the housing development. Heartland Properties is also a construction lender for the project.

&uot;Our task is simple – build homes in Alliant service areas,&uot; Domack said. Pickerel Park Townhomes is the first section 42 development in Minnesota in over a decade.

Mayor Marv Wangen said the affordable housing was &uot;sorely needed&uot; to continue the growth in Albert Lea.

&uot;People come here to work, but they can’t find a place to live. That’s going to become a limiting factor of growth in Albert Lea,&uot; Wangen said. &uot;If they can’t find a home to rent, there’s absolutely no reason to stay here.&uot;

Stephanie Brand, president of Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, said, &uot;This will provide the quality, affordable housing, which is essential to the growth of the community.&uot;

Officials said housing remains a problem statewide.

&uot;One impediment to growth now is the insufficient housing in the state,&uot; said Louis Jambois, Director of Community Assistance Unit of the Department of Trade and Economic Development.

Recently, the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development had awarded Albert Lea a Small Cities Development Program grant totaling $500,000 for construction of the townhomes.

Levy said Albert Lea was chosen and offered grants because, &uot;the city has been recognized for needing low-income housing.&uot;

Levy also thought Albert Lea was a prime location for the project because he feels the city will grow further once the Avenue of Saints is completed.

Newbury Development will begin construction this fall, Levy hopes. However, depending on when the ground freezes, Levy said they might have to hold off until spring. They are planned to be completed by next summer.

When completed, the development will offer two and three bedroom apartments to two to five member families. Rents to income qualified families – $16,200 to $25,000 – range from about $378 to $529. The families must pay established rents to continue to live in the development.

Newbury Development Company is making a 30-year commitment to provide the rental units to families in the low to middle income bracket. During that time, the company is responsible for management and upkeep and receives no subsidies on rent.

Because the project is contingent on other state assistance, the state will require annual inspections of the property. Any maintenance problems must be addressed; the tax-sheltered-equity owners are responsible for immediate repairs.

The Internal Revenue Service will also monitor income requirements of the proposed development, but if renters exceed the income limits while living in the development, they can’t be evicted.

Newbury also provides on site management at each of its 50 developments. Each unit costs about $91,000.

The 24 units will have an attached garage, central air, gas forced heat, stove, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher and washer and dryer.