City votes to pay portion of added parking for growing business

Published 6:15 am Friday, July 28, 2023

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday voted to partner with the Albert Lea Port Authority and a local business to add more parking for the business, which is growing in the southern part of the city. 

City Manager Ian Rigg said Design Ready Controls, which is leasing the building at the corner of Margaretha Avenue and 14th Street from the Port Authority, started with a few dozen employees and is expected to reach over 100 employees in the next year. 

While there is a small parking lot next to the building, many employees are parking on 14th Street, which is heavily traveled by large semis. 

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Rigg said the new parking area would be split between the city, the Port Authority and Design Ready Controls, with each spending $97,000. 

He said if the property were to sell in the future, the Port Authority would return to the city 33% of the added resale value of the parking lot. 

Third Ward Councilor Jason Howland asked if the action would be a first for the city or if it was something it has done for other organizations. 

Rigg said the city has had other cost share, rebates or direct donations with other projects and noted it is in the public’s interest for job creation. 

The project will be paid for with funds from the city’s economic development fund and was not previously budgeted. 

In other action, the council:

  • Approved a resolution that acknowledges the completion of the 48-unit apartment Albert Lea Apartments at 750 E. Front St. and authorizes the issuance of a tax-increment finance note not to exceed $474,000. 

The council had previously approved the TIF district with development firm Unique Opportunities LLC, which led the project. 

Tax increment financing is a tool communities have to provide gap financing for projects without impacting existing taxes. Through it, a municipality diverts the increase in property taxes that comes because of the new development for a set number of years to pay for development expenses. 

The payments will start on Aug. 1, 2024.  

  • Approved the final reading of an ordinance that would allow buildings to be 60 feet tall instead of 40 feet in the Limited Industrial District. 
  • Approved sending in a Point Source Implementation Grant application to the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority for the wastewater treatment plant improvement project. 

Rigg said the resolution was approved in 2022 and needs to be redone annually until funding is received.

The new wastewater treatment plant is estimated to cost $80 million, including planning, design and construction. The current plant was built in 1983. 

  • Appointed Matt Maras to the Planning Commission.