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Washington School may become senior housing

North Washington Avenue may be seeing some redevelopment in the near future.

Roger Winter, Casey Bristlin and John Winter came before the Detroit Lakes Development Authority Tuesday afternoon to request tax increment financing to refurbish and build new at the Washington School site.

The project would include 30 apartment units, likely to be used for senior housing. The cost is estimated at $2.3 million.

In the original proposal, which has since changed, Union Central LLC asked the city for $350,000 in tax increment financing (TIF), with $150,000 upfront. The project was to have included a daycare center, apartments and a commons area with kitchen. The project was to have included refurbishing the newer portion of the school, demolishing the older portion and then building a second building on the lot.

Developers said nine to 14 jobs would be created, mainly through the daycare facility.

At the meeting though, plans for the building project had changed, which caused DLDA members to postpone any financing until an updated application was provided.

Roger Winter said after he had talked with Gordy Grabow, head of the city housing authority, the building might better be used as senior housing.

The playground equipment would still be left for grandchildren who visit the seniors; there would also be the commons area with kitchen and a beauty salon -- the only commercial aspect of the housing project.

DL Community Development Director Larry Remmen said a TIF "is doable with this project. It fits in pretty well with what's been proposed," he added of the RDG Planning and Design consultation of the North Washington Avenue area.

"We're asking for the money to make the project go," Winter said, especially the $150,000 upfront for demolition costs.

"There is considerable area of green space out there," Winter added. "We feel we've got the amount of parking as requested by the city.

"It's a good project for the north side of town."

While no one on the DLDA disputed that, some were concerned about the application changing and about the $150,000 needed upfront.

Remmen said the DLDA could either sell tax increment bonds or take an intra-fund loan from the public utilities fund to cover the $150,000. The remaining $200,000 would be pay as you go.

"In general, this is a good idea," DLDA member Mark Hagen said of the entire project.

The DLDA agreed to table the application until the next meeting, scheduled for Feb. 3, to get more information on what the developers actually plan to do with the site.