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Sep 20

Press Release: Block 52 Groundbreaking in Downtown Monticello

Posted to City of Monticello - Press Releases by Haley Foster

DATE:           September 20, 2022

                      For Immediate Release

CONTACT:  Rachel Leonard

                      (763) 295-2711 | Rachel.Leonard@ci.monticello.mn.us

Private Developer Closes on Block 52 Purchase, Hosts Celebratory Groundbreaking in Downtown Monticello

Monticello, MN – We had two exciting milestones for Downtown Monticello this week: on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022 Block 52 Holdings, LLC., Buchholz Exchange, LLC., and Norgren Exchange, LLC., closed on the purchase of a portion of Monticello’s Block 52. Shortly thereafter, a crowd gathered for a groundbreaking event on the project, referred to as Block 52 First Addition. The project will be a mixed-use development that will start construction this fall. The commercial and residential project is being developed by Buchholz Development (also known as Block 52 Holdings, LLC.). The project will feature 87 new residential units and over 30,000 square feet of commercial space, including a new restaurant and patio.

Block 52 is the city block at the northwest corner of the Broadway and Pine Street (TH25) intersection. It’s located in the heart of downtown and one of the most visible spots in the city, with over 37,000 vehicles traveling through the intersection each day.

Block 52 Groundbreaking 2022A Brief History of Block 52

The groundbreaking and land purchase marks a monumental turning point in the project, one that was overseen by dozens of staff members, city council and EDA members over the past two decades.

The EDA first acquired property from willing sellers on Block 52 in 1996. A single parcel was purchased with the hope that land assembly would continue and allow for a meaningful redevelopment proposal. There was a long period of waiting for willing sellers after that purchase. In late 2017, two property owners expressed an interest in selling to the EDA. After negotiating and reaching an agreement, the EDA purchased 103 Pine and 112 West River in early 2018. Those purchases were followed by the acquisition of three properties, 101, 107 and 121 West Broadway, in late 2020. The final property within Block 52 First Addition, 113 West Broadway, was acquired by the EDA in late 2021. This purchase gave the EDA and City site control of contiguous land area totaling 83 percent of the block. The time from initial to final purchase was about 25 years.

Following the purchase of the two properties in 2018, the EDA was optimistic that a meaningful redevelopment could occur in the block and started to discuss concepts with numerous developers. That process occurred over 6 months in early 2019. Then COVID brought much of the world, including development, to a halt for 15 months. Finally, the efforts regained significant momentum upon the EDA and Deephaven Development (Buchholz Development), entering into a preliminary development agreement in June 2021. From that moment forward, all parties worked together to bring forward a dynamic, catalytic development proposal that will have an impact in revitalizing the core downtown of Monticello.

Upcoming Projects in the Downtown

Downtown is the birthplace of our city and the focus of civic activity. The City of Monticello’s Downtown Small Area Plan was adopted in 2017 and builds off those foundational qualities with a clear vision for the future of the core blocks Downtown. The groundbreaking on Block 52 is a significant step toward the signature development called for in the Downtown Small Area Plan.

In addition to the private development happening on Block 52, the City of Monticello is continuing its effort to improve Downtown for visitors, businesses, and residents by revitalizing both new and existing spaces. The Downtown Roadway and Pedestrian Improvements project is scheduled to begin next summer. This project will include improvements to Walnut Street between Broadway and River Street, River Street between Walnut Street and Pine Street and Broadway, between Pine Street and Walnut Street. It will also include connecting Walnut Street to River Street, roadway, sidewalk, and utility improvements, as well as improved signage, lighting, and landscaping. The improvements will make a more inviting and safe environment for everyone who uses the area.

We’d like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication the EDA and City Council have put into the Block 52 project and our Downtown Small Area Plan over the years. Their vision and commitment to the project coupled with staff’s effort to execute the process has allowed an idea to come to life. Downtown Monticello, both past and present, will continue to be a distinct space bringing people together as a community.

Sep 09

Back to School Reminders from WCSO

Posted to City Spotlight by Haley Foster

A Message from the Wright County Sheriff's Office

With change of seasons comes other changes, the Wright County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind all citizens that safe driving is a primary concern. Wright County has numerous construction zones, kids back in school, sun position changes, weather changes, and more people going back to work.

Sheriff Sean Deringer asks all drivers to:

  1. Always keep 100 percent of your attention on the road – try to avoid multi-tasking.
  2. Don’t use your phone or electronic devices while driving.
  3. Wear your seat belt.
  4. Slow down.

The Safest Mode of Transportation for Children

In Minnesota, school buses make at least 10,000 school bus trips daily. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are the safest mode of transportation for children — children are eight times safer riding in a bus to school than any other vehicles.

  •  In Minnesota in 2019, there was one fatality involving a school bus.
  • There were 3,220 traffic crashes involving school buses from 2015-2019. Only 272 school age children who were riding in a school bus were hurt during that time frame. 

Stop for School Buses: It's the Law!

  • State law requires all vehicles to stop for school buses when the bus driver activates the flashing lights and has the crossing arm fully extended.
  • Drivers who violate the law face a $500 fine.
  • Drivers can face criminal charges for passing a school bus on the right, passing when a child is outside the bus, or injuring or killing a child. 

Motorists

Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights or a stop arm when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads. Motorists should slow down, pay attention, and anticipate school children and buses, especially in neighborhoods and school zones. The best way to be aware of your surroundings at all times is to put the distractions away.

Students 

When getting off a bus, look to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder. Wait for the bus driver to signal that it’s safe to cross. When crossing the street to get on the bus or to go home, make eye contact with motorists before proceeding.

Jan 28

Downtown: Block 52 Redevelopment Concept

Posted to Community & Economic Development by Haley Foster

City Council, Boards, and Commissions Come Together for Block 52 Redevelopment Concept

Blog PicThere’s something special about Downtown Monticello. A place defined by a mix of riverfront, local businesses, people, and opportunities. As part of an ongoing commitment to downtown revitalization, the City of Monticello recently held a special meeting about a potential project that seeks to capture all these downtown elements.

On January 10, members of the City Council, Planning Commission, Economic Development Authority (EDA), and Parks, Arts, and Recreation Commission (PARC) came together with area business owners and city staff to view a concept plan for a proposed multi-use development. The concept was presented by Deephaven Development, LLC, Buchholz Construction, and RHET Architecture. Along with an initial glimpse of the concept, the meeting was an opportunity to provide feedback to the developers as they refine their plans.

What is Block 52?Block 52 Map

A reference to the legal description of the land, Block 52 is the city block at the northwest corner of the Broadway and Pine Street (TH25) intersection. It’s located in the heart of downtown and one of the most visible spots in the city, with over 37,000 vehicles traveling through the intersection each day. 

With these advantages, the block was identified in the City’s Downtown Plan as an opportunity for revitalization. The vision was for a signature development project, bringing additional energy and vitality to the area.

Why did the EDA buy property on the block?

Redevelopment is consistently more complex and expensive than developing vacant land. Cities can encourage redevelopment by helping assemble various properties into a single land tract. This allows developers to efficiently work with a single property owner and take advantage of local financing tools.

To help redevelop Block 52 as a value to the city, the EDA purchased land from willing sellers in the area. Some property owners have opted to remain on the block, adding their energy to the downtown. The EDA was ultimately successful in bringing together what was needed for a feasible project, about 83% of the block.

Is the City working with a private developer?

Yes! Both Block 52 redevelopment and broader Downtown revitalization is anchored by a commitment to public-private partnerships. As the EDA neared completion of property acquisition, they began searching for a developer interested in bringing a project to life. In 2021 the EDA approved a Preliminary Development Agreement (PDA) with Deephaven Development, LLC. The PDA allows both the City and the developer to move through initial project development stages before a more binding development agreement is established. 

Block 52 RenderingProposed Development

At the January 10 meeting, the developer team unveiled their initial concept for a mixed-use development incorporating both residential and commercial spaces. The proposed concept is a five story, L-shaped building along Broadway and Pine streets. The structure steps down to coordinate with the existing historical buildings downtown. While presenting at the meeting, Architect Rhet Fiskness of RHET Architecture highlighted efforts to complement Monticello’s historical roots with building materials that coordinate with existing downtown structures: a combination of red brick, blond brick, and metal accents.

According to Mark Buchholz of Buchholz Construction, the concept has apartments on levels two through four. On the first floor, the concept shows office space on Broadway, retail stores on Pine Street, a restaurant with a patio overlooking West Bridge Park as well as public plaza on the corner of Broadway and Pine Street. Their concept includes underground parking spaces as well as surface parking spaces.

“We want to create something with vibrancy that will be a place where you want to go and hang out,” said Buchholz.

City Feedback for the Concept

As those in attendance reviewed the concept photos and presentation detail, many provided positive feedback to the developers. 

Council members Jim Davidson and Charlotte Gabler appreciated the aesthetic and building materials incorporated in the design. Mayor Lloyd Hilgart agreed, giving the developers an “A plus” on their project. Council member Sam Murdoff also liked what he saw, but indicated he was interested in seeing even more. “I’m willing to help you make the project bigger,” said Murdoff.

Architect Rhet Fiskness joked he would love the opportunity to go bigger but noted this is just the first step of many. “Cities are designed by architecture,” said Fiskness. “The goal of the Block 52 project is to help define downtown Monticello while respecting the neighboring buildings that exist,” he added. Future development could then incorporate this definition into their plans.

Members of the EDA, Planning Commission, and PARC also noted their positive impression of the project, particularly how the proposed concept clearly reflected the intention and vision of the redevelopment effort. 

Building Momentum for a Long-Term Project

After many years of planning for a signature project, there is a lot of anticipation for visible progress. City staff noted the project is still in the early stages, but they’re happy with the feedback from the meeting and the benefits a project like this would bring to the City of Monticello. 

City Administrator Rachel Leonard emphasized, “This is the kind of project that takes several years to accomplish. We’re moving forward, which is exciting, but there’s a lot more to do before people will be able to eat at an outdoor patio overlooking West Bridge Park and the river.” 

Until then, the City of Monticello will continue to support a vibrant downtown with a commitment to this project and the entire downtown.Block 52 Message