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Developer wants to expand apartment project in Alexandria

The developer wants to increase the amount of units from 70 to 101.

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ALEXANDRIA – A proposal to expand an apartment building from 70 units to 101 received zoning approval from the Alexandria City Council Monday night, Nov. 28.

Central Lakes Apartments/Twenty08 Apartments wants to amend an existing conditional use permit that was granted in 2019. The property is located west of Viking Place, south of Runestone Avenue.

The original permit authorized the construction of two apartments, 70 units total. The first building, Central Lakes Apartment, has been built and is occupied, according to Skip Duchesneau with Alexandria Housing II.

Because of the increase in construction costs and higher interest rates, Duchesneau told the Alexandria Planning Commission that it makes financial sense to increase the size of the market rate building from the smaller one that was first proposed.

The developer is required to have 2,500 square feet of land area per unit. The new plan fits with the requirement by having an average of 2,573 square feet.

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Infrastructures are already in place and will be extended to accommodate the new building.

Duchesneau said there is definitely a need in the community for additional housing. The apartment building next to Twenty08 filled up in less than 60 days and he said the same will be true for the Twenty08 apartments.

The apartments would be rented at the market rate; the developer hasn't applied for tax increment financing, which would provide low-income housing, but it could seek it at a later time, according to City Planner Mike Weber.

The council approved the permit with four conditions – two parking stalls are required per unit, utility connections must be made with ALP Utilities and Alexandria Lake Area Sanitary District, any exterior lighting must be hooded and directed away from residential uses, and a final drainage plan must be reviewed by the city engineer.

In other zoning related action, the council:

  • Decided not to pursue enacting additional buffer restrictions for where THC products may be sold or manufactured. THC, a compound that gives cannabis its high, is derived from hemp and can treat or prevent nausea and vomiting caused by cancer medications. The planning commission and council considered not allowing the products to be sold near churches or schools but ultimately decided to treat THC the same as tobacco or alcohol and not have buffer areas. However, later during the meeting, City Attorney Tom Jacobson noted that the city's new THC licensing ordinance says that a license can be denied to a THC businesses if it's located within 300 feet of any school or addiction recovery center.
  • Approved a final plat for the GoodNeighbors Addition. The preliminary plat was approved in October. The final plat creates two parcels that could be sold. The 123.13-acre property is the site of the SunOpta warehouse that’s under construction near County Road 46/34th Avenue West, east of the intersection with County Road 45.
  • Approved an exception to platting that was requested by Gerald and Kolleen Roth. This will allow them to divide an unplatted 22.1-acre parcel south of Cross Country Lane, about 1,434 feet west of Highway 29, to create three conveyable tracts of land. The tracts will be combined or adjoined with existing parcels. There are no structures on the site.

Engineering work approved for Nokomis

Another step was taken in the process of reconstructing Nokomis Street from 18th to 22nd Avenue.

The council approved a $109,008 engineering agreement for the project, which is estimated to cost $714,600. The cost would be funded by state aid money and the water main extension work will be paid by ALP Utilities.

The project will reconstruct a 2,457-foot section of Nokomis Street and will include an 8-foot-wide paved trail along the west side of the street. The street will be reconstructed as a three-lane, 42-foot-wide, 9-ton street with curb and gutter. The project will include minor driveway repair, handicapped-accessible pedestrian ramps and turf.

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Workers will also install about 1,800 feet of 12-inch diameter water main to serve the Pope-Douglas Solid Waste Facility expansion that’s now under construction.

The project is scheduled to be constructed next year. A second project, planned for 2024, will extend the reconstruction of Nokomis Street from 18th to 12th Avenue.

In a related action, the council approved a resolution of support for a multi-use trail that will be built along Nokomis Street.

The resolution will be included with the city’s full grant application to the Minnesota Active Transportation Infrastructure Program. Established by the Legislature, the new program provides grants for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure projects.

The council is requesting $100,700.

New scoreboard at Knute Nelson Memorial Park

A big improvement is coming to Knute Nelson Memorial Park – a new scoreboard that will be located beyond the right field fence.

The Alexandria Youth Baseball Association has been raising money for the purchase and City Administrator Marty Schultz told the council that it’s now appropriate to consider an agreement for constructing the scoreboard and eventually donating it to the city.

Judy Backhaus, representing the AYBA, thanked the four large donors for contributing $50,000 each to the scoreboard project — Alex Rubbish and Recycling, Aagard, Alexandria College Foundation and First Western Bank and Trust. She added that the scoreboard should be up and running next spring.

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The council approved the agreement with these key provisions:

  • The project will be complete by May 15, 2023.
  • AYBA will transfer ownership of the scoreboard to the city after installation.
  • Other than the city work already completed – running electric and fiber lines from the right of way to the scoreboard – the costs of manufacturing and installing the scoreboard will be the responsibility of AYBA.
  • The AYBA has the exclusive right to sell advertising on the scoreboard for 15 years. The AYBA will also retain all revenue from the sale of scoreboard advertising.

ALP Utilities to put more lines underground

ALP Utilities was authorized to call for construction bids to put more power lines underground.

The estimated bid for this work is $660,000.

The project will take place next year in two areas:

Aga circuit – starting at ALP’s southwest substation, going north on Nevada Street to 34th Avenue West, then going east on 34th Avenue to Highway 29 and going north on Aga Drive to Fillmore Park.

44th Avenue/McKay circuit – starting at Voyager Drive and County Road 42, going northeast on east Golf Course Road to S. LeHomme Dieu Drive and ending on the north end of McKay Avenue.

There is no cost to the city. ALP Utility’s electrical revenues will cover the expense.

ALP Utilities said the project is needed to increase its ability to back feed distribution circuits and substations to improve reliability of the overall distribution system.

“The City of Alexandria continues to grow and utilize more energy every year and ALP continues to upgrade their system to meet those increasing requirements,” said Josh Waldorf, ALP Utilities electric distribution manager in a memo to the council.

Cameras to be installed at fire station

The council accepted a $24,231 quote from Arvig to install two exterior and three interior security cameras, along with a new access system at four entrances at the fire station.

The money will come from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The city still has about $300,000 in unspent ARPA funds.

The fire station doesn’t have any security cameras and concerns have been raised about building security, protecting the fire trucks and firefighter safety gear.

The current door access system is almost 30 years old. The new system will allow both fob access and a phone app for quick-scan access.

Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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