A new study will determine how much money could be raised through private donations for a proposed $9 million expansion at the Runestone Community Center.

At its Monday meeting, the Alexandria City Council agreed to hire a Minneapolis-based consultant, Mark Davy and Associates, to put together a feasibility study to determine if there is enough support to move forward with a private capital campaign.

The cost of the study is $15,500, plus an additional $500 to $1,000 in printing and postage. The city agreed to cover $7,750 plus between $250 to $500 of the printing and postage.

The rest of the cost would be split between the RCC’s primary users – the Alexandria Area Hockey Association, Alexandria Figure Skating Club and the Vikingland Curling Club.

City Attorney Tom Jacobson said the city’s participation in the feasibility study is legal but city staff and elected officials aren’t allowed to participate in the capital campaign.

City council member Todd Jensen said he supports the study as long as the council was willing to live with the results – either moving ahead with the RCC project or dropping it.

“We’ve talked about this the entire seven years I’ve been on the council,” said Jensen.

City staff, RCC commissioners and representatives from the user groups have been meeting for several months to discuss the private funding process. Key users of non-ice events were also invited to participate.

The consultant will work with local project leaders to create a vision statement for the project and interview and survey about 50 potential donors, including individuals, businesses and foundations. It will also send a survey to between 100 and 200 people that may support a campaign.

It will compile a report that contains the answers from the interviews and surveys and present the information to the project leaders.

The study is expected to take about three months.

The council has requested matching funds from the state Legislature for the RCC expansion on multiple occasions but it hasn’t been included in any final bonding bills.

More than 22,000 people attended 17 dry floor events at the center in 2017 and thousands more attended games, competitions and exhibitions.

The RCC is the only facility that offers summer ice between Moorhead and St. Cloud on the Interstate 94 corridor.

Big project on Third Avenue makes headway

The council took preliminary action to vacate an alley, which will allow Good Neighbors Properties to proceed with the redevelopment of the former Bello Cucia/Old Broadway site on Third Avenue and Broadway.

The site, which also includes West Central Glass and the former Blue Collar Bob’s parcels, have now been sold to the developers and a building permit application has been submitted for the project.

The development also now has a name – The Rune.

The complex will sit on a footprint of 37,200 square feet, and is to include about 75 apartments on the upper three floors. The main floor will be a mix of office and retail space and a restaurant, with 112 underground parking spots also part of the plan.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $19 million.

New snowmobile route

The council approved a request from the Douglas Area Trails Association to create a trail route that would connect the area near the new Ollie’s Service on Donna Drive to the existing DATA trail near Mark Lee Excavating on the south side of 50th Avenue.

The city council hasn’t updated the snowmobile routes in the city since 2009. The new route is not on the list of prohibited routes.

The council authorized city staff to submit landowner permission forms to DATA. Under state law, any landowner who provides permission for a trail doesn’t assume any liability.

Tax-forfeited properties

Two pieces of property that were forfeited to the state because the owners didn’t pay property taxes might be used for workforce and affordable housing.

The council agreed to authorize the Alexandria Housing and Redevelopment Authority to negotiate the purchase price of the properties, which are now owned by Douglas County.

One of the parcels would be used for The Preserve development, west of Birch Avenue near land owned by Lumber One.

The other parcel is located near Woodland Park Drive NE. The HRA plans to build and sell a single-family home targeted to a workforce housing home buyer.

There is no financial impact to the city.

City Administrator Marty Schultz said there is a track record of success in turning tax-forfeited property into affordable housing. In 2012, the HRA acquired tax-forfeited property at 1203 Jefferson Street, built a home on the blighted property and sold it in 2016. The tax value of the land increased by about $130,000, he said.

Also, in 2017, the HRA purchased five tax-forfeited parcels. Three of the parcels on East Oak Knoll Drive were split into six buildable single-family lots and two homes are under construction. The other two lots are the site of the Central Lakes I and II apartment projects.

City to buy land for right of way

The council hired Evergreen Land Service Company of Richfield for $12,730 to help the city appraise and negotiate right-of-way property from landowners along 18th Avenue West.

The city plans to extend 18th Avenue between Broadway and Jefferson Street and rebuild it as a 10-ton urban street with curb, gutter and handicap-accessible sidewalks.

The cost for Evergreen’s services is eligible to be reimbursed by the state as part of the overall cost of the project.