Updates on Albert Lea’s development projects, construction

Published 8:31 am Saturday, August 28, 2021

Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing story providing updates on construction happenings in Albert Lea. If you know of a project that was not included in this story that you would like added to the list, let us know.

Albert Lea has been busy with all kinds of construction and development taking place this summer.

Here’s an update on the projects taking place:


Sky Flats (at the former Marketplace Foods)

Interior demolition has begun on the former Marketplace Foods building, which is expected to become Sky Flats, a 50-unit market-rate housing complex with both one-and two-bedroom units.

Albert Lea City Planner Megan Boeck said the project, which is being developed by Coldwell Banker Commercial works to eliminate blight in the community. Boeck said the shell of the building will remain but will be rebuilt.

The building is being developed by Coldwell Banker Commercial/Northwest Development Group.


Blazing Star soil remediation/new apartments

Crews continue working to remediate the soil at the future site of a 48-unit apartment building at the southern part of the Blazing Star Landing, the former site of Farmstead Foods. This week, crews were hauling in clay from a Medford pit to be used in a proposed pond excavation area.

The city received a $1.4 million Contamination Cleanup and Investigation Grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to go toward the remediation. City Engineer Steven Jahnke previously stated the contamination is believed to have been from a coal ash pile that Wilson & Co. previously had on the southern portion of the property.

Boeck said soil remediation is only expected to take another few weeks, and construction is expected to begin shortly after that still this fall.

The building, developed by Unique Opportunities LLC of Fergus Falls, will include both one- and two-bedroom units. A majority of the units will be market-rate housing, with 20% of the units available to people at or below 50% of the area median income.


Lake Lofts (in the former VFW building)

Interior demolition has begun on the former VFW building on Clark Street, which will be turned into 20 loft-style market-rate apartments.

Boeck said developers Par-10 of Apple Valley applied for and received historic tax credits for the building and received a certificate of appropriateness from the Albert Lea Heritage Preservation Commission to ensure the facade will remain historic in nature. The developer is still working on approval for the exterior remodel.

Boeck said the project includes not only the former VFW building but also the building next door at 127 E. Clark St.


Vortex Cold Storage

Construction is ongoing at the site off of 14th Street that will become the new 168,000-square-foot Vortex Cold Storage.

Boeck said the building permit has been issued and the company has all of its approvals.

She said the city and the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency worked hard to attract the business to Albert Lea and provided economic development subsidies and incentives. The project was also awarded funds from DEED for job creation.

The project is expected to create 26 new jobs.

The building will have temperature-controlled Safe Quality Food Certified storage, ranging from 40 degrees to 20 below zero, along with other customizable warehouse services.


Bridge Avenue reconstruction

According to the update shared in the city’s weekly email, work on Bridge Avenue this week included concrete work and aggregate base between Richway Drive and the Goose Creek crossing, along with street lighting and traffic signal work on the same stretch.

Between Goose Creek and Troy Road, crews conducted water main, sanitary sewer and storm sewer work.

Work next week is expected to include the following:

• Aggregate base installation and concrete work between Eastgate Road and Glenview Road

• Street lighting work between Eastgate Road and Glenview Road

• Watermain and sanitary sewer work between Troy Road and Hammer Road

The update stated the intersection at Hammer Road will be closed beginning the week of Sept. 6.

At that point, the detour for all vehicles is to use Plaza Street and Richway Drive.

Traffic coming from the east on Hammer Road will need to use Y.H. Hanson Avenue and either Hershey or Sykes streets.

The closure at the Hammer intersection is expected to take about seven weeks.


Edgewood, St. Peter, Stanley and Ulstad avenues reconstruction

Crews this week prepared for sod to be placed next week.

The project has included removal and replacement of pavement, curb and gutter, sidewalk, sanitary sewer, storm sewer and watermain.

The $1.83 million project is being paid for with assessments, general obligation bonding funds, and water and sewer funds.


Neighborhood improvement project

No work took place this week on this project, though removal and replacement of the pavement on Michaelle Lane is tentatively scheduled for the week of Sept. 7-10

The project has included the mill and overlay and various sidewalk replacement on portions of Wilson Street, Stevens Street, Oakwood Terrace, Waldorf Road, David Drive, Kevin Drive, Kenneth Drive, Eunice Drive as well as bituminous reconstruction on Michaelle Lane.


Plaza Street culvert replacement

The contractor will begin removing the pavement and digging the temporary channel adjacent to the existing Plaza Street culverts next week. Work is expected to take approximately three weeks.