RED WING-- Megan Tsui, the executive director of Downtown Main Street appeared before the City Council on Monday to present on a proposed investment partnership for the redevelopment of downtown.
Downtown Main Street, the City Council and other government and private organizations have been working to revitalize the city, specifically by transforming unused second stories into apartments. Tsui summarized the importance of this work by explaining, “If you want to look at the health of a downtown, don't look down at the retail level at the street level, look up, because those are the people that shop and eat and spend their money and walk and love downtown.”
The report presented to the council says of the program, “Red Wing Downtown Main Street requests that the City Council set aside up to $100,000 from the Downtown Investment Partnerships Fund for a redevelopment challenge launching in December.”
Tsui broke down the project and her request of the city in person after receiving a few questions from council members and the mayor. She explained that DTMS is not asking for a $100,000 check. Rather, the organization is putting together one application to help potential building owners or individuals interested in purchasing buildings and refurbish the second floor. Tsui said DTMS will “put all of their documents together, figure out what technical assistance they need, help them access funds that are already available through the Port Authority (and) potentially through Minnesota Main Street.” Boards that provide funding will vote on applications and if funding will be provided.
On Monday most of the council members who spoke on the proposed partnership spoke in favor of it. Council member Dean Hove told Tsui, “I like your excitement. I've said for well, about 15 years, that we need to help and incentivize getting those upstairs finished.”
Council member Evan Brown was the only person to voice concern with the proposal. “I think the motivation is excellent, but I also think that we have an obligation to take these funds and try to figure out how we’re using them holistically,” said Brown. “What do we want to accomplish?”
Currently the city has $400,000 in a fund for downtown investment. If the city agreed to the proposed partnership, money would be provided from this fund.
Council member Kim Beise responded to Brown by saying, “We’ve got an opportunity here, it’s 25% of the fund, let’s put it to work.”
Incentives for redevelopment
There are currently incentives in place to redevelop upper floors in Red Wing. Tsui listed them in her presentation:
Up to $7,500 Technical Assistance Grants from the Port Authority.
Up to $150,000 from the HRA for up to 6 units --half affordable-- through the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
Up to $50,000 --half forgivable from the HRAs Small Cities Grant
Up to $2,500 Sign and Awning Grant from Port Authority
Tsui also presented on the potential of the proposed partnership:
Up to $100,000 from the City's Downtown Investment Partnership Funds
Up to $25,000 (pending) from the Jones Family Foundation
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program funds
Additional Foundation Partner Funds
Additional City Programs such as tax abatement, fee reduction, etc
In- kind services like accounting, legal, and marketing
The proposed partnership has restrictions for projects. Eligible projects can be:
“Rehabilitation and/or restoration of significant commercial properties within the designated downtown district.”
“Compatible new construction including building additions with first-floor commercial and upper floors) commercial or residential. Razing of an existing structure to allow for new construction will not be considered an eligible use of funds.”
“Multiple properties connected by a common need or issue.”
City staff will put together a report on the Downtown Investment Partnerships Fund redevelopment challenge for an upcoming council meeting.