ALBERT LEA, Minnesota - The large tract of land on the southwest corner of East Main Street and Garfield Avenue was once home to Farmland Foods. Since a fire destroyed the plant in 2001, the land has sat empty, and the city has been looking for developers to revive the now-titled "Blazing Star Landing" property.
Now, the project is taking another step forward; at Monday night's city council meeting, a tax increment financing (TIF) district was approved for part of the land, with financial assistance set at $474,000. The multi-phase project is being developed by the Minnesota-based Unique Opportunities, and will be the site of multi-family housing units. Phase 1 of the project will cover about 3 acres, and hold 48 housing units.
City Planner Megan Boeck hopes the project can fill a void in the community - market-rate and lower income housing, issues all pointed out in a recent housing study.
"About 150 unit housing unit gap. This development would work to fill a part of that gap."
And while the pandemic has pumped the brakes on some development projects around the country, Boeck believes there is still a market for development.
"We were able to continue to move forward with the developers that we had that were in our reach prior to COVID."
Phase 1 is slated to begin construction this fall. Depending on the success of phase 1, future phases will be constructed at a later date.