When the city of New Richmond purchased the waterfront property located at 262 N. Knowles Avenue, known locally as the former Dairy Queen site, in 2017 for $175,000, it became the first of two controversial property purchases by the city.
The second, the Beebe Building at 307 S. Knowles Ave., was purchased by the city in Decmber 2018 for $300,000, estimated to be about half of the assessed value at the time.
Both sales drew condemnation from residents on several accounts. First, for the lost tax revenue to the city while the properties sat vacant in the case of the DQ property for five years and four years for the Beebe property.
There also were questions about the cost to taxpayers to raze both buildings and questions as to whether the city should be involved in real estate speculation or as some residents saw it, competing with private investors for the properties.
There were additional ethical questions about how the purchase of Beebe Building had been handled.
Most recently, the New Richmond Chamber of Commerce proposed developing the DQ site but withdrew it due several factors including parking and traffic issues.
In a statement dated Feb. 13, City Administrator Noah Wiedenfed announced that Londyn Land II, a private developer from Minnesota, had purchased the DQ property on Feb. 8, for $125,000 plus closing costs.
According to the statement, “Londyn Development has been successful in acquiring, entitling, and developing properties in and around the Twin Cities for nearly a decade.”
The city has consistently viewed the DQ site as an important cornerstone to the redevelopment on the north side.
“When we purchased the property a few years ago, we always planned to find a private developer who could contribute to the revitalization of the downtown and the north side of New Richmond,” Mayor Jim Zajkowski said.
Between the land sale proceeds and the tax revenue generated from new construction, the city of New Richmond expects to be made whole for its costs associated with the initial property acquisition and abatement.
Zajkowski reminded residents, the other city purchase, Beebe Lofts, currently under construction, is scheduled to open later this year making 50 apartments available for seniors within walking distance of multiple downtown businesses and the future library.
The city expects both public-private partnerships will help spur downtown revitalization and grow the tax base.
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