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Detroit Lakes moves forward on convention center

The Detroit Lakes Development Authority is moving forward with a feasibility report for a convention center in town.

The DLDA plans to apply for a USDA Rural Development grant to fund 49 percent of a redevelopment study -- $39,200 -- which will include the Highway 10 corridor, the new gateway district after the re-alignment, Washington Avenue and West Lake Drive to Country Road 6, and the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center area.

The study will also include the conference center, which is planned for one of the areas in the feasibility study.

In last month's DLDA meeting, it has been suggested in the past that a city sales tax help pay for the conference center, but DLDA chairman Jim Anderson, who also serves as an alderman on city council, said Legislature has passed a three-year sales tax moratorium. Mayor Larry Buboltz said he would like to see the funding placed on the June 25 State Bonding Bill.

The DLDA has hired Cyndi Anderson, Mosaic Consulting, and also a member of the Detroit Lakes Planning Commission, to write the USDA grant.

The DLDA is also asking the city council to approve funding 51 percent of the study, which would be about $40,800. Total estimated cost for the feasibility study is $80,000.

Community Development Director Larry Remmen said Kathy Coyle, business and cooperative specialist at USDA, had told him there is another grant -- Rural Business Enterprise Grant -- with money set aside for those within Minnesota applying. The amount is $22,427. He said that would likely be less competition than the USDA Rural Development grant.

Although, he said, Coyle wasn't certain the city would qualify either because it may have to be for a certain business, rather than a city project.

"Kathy doesn't think it's jeopardizing to double dip," Mary Beth Gilsdorf, DLDA member, asked.

Remmen said that is one issue, that the government could see the city on both applications and turn the request(s) down.

To avoid that, the DLDA plans to apply for both grants but to separate the two items of conference center and redevelopment area and have the city apply for one grant and the DLDA apply for the other grant, thus submitting two different tax identification numbers.

The DLDA unanimously agreed to pursue the two grants under two different items.

"I think that's a good way to go," Remmen assured.