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New apartment complex “picking up momentum”

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Ely city council members Angela Campbell and Adam Bisbee at Tuesday’s meeting. Photo by Parker Loew.

by Parker Loew

The city’s workforce housing project appears to be moving forward according to discussions at the city council meeting on Tuesday.

The apartment complex housing project has been “picking up momentum” over the last few weeks, according to city clerk/treasurer Harold Langowski.

Langowski informed the city how the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) has been working with the developer for the project, D.W. Jones, on almost a daily basis.

“The project is now looking to be a 37-unit apartment complex, three stories, with about 20 covered garage parking stalls,” said Langowski.

There will be an additional 35 or more uncovered parking spots on the property, as well as a small playground and some outside amenities.

The complex would be three stories high with one elevator.

The units would range from studio apartments to three-bedroom apartments, with the largest being about 1,300 square feet.

The city conducted a market study recently where they concluded what the affordable rates were in town to get an idea of what rent will cost.

“Right now, the project is taking those numbers and we’re trying to get this project at rents below what the market is saying,” said Langowski.

Langowksi estimates the total cost of the apartment complex will be roughly $8.4 million, with bonded debt at around $3.5 million.

This will be contingent on whether the city can secure IRRRB and workforce housing funds for Minnesota housing.

“One big piece of that gap is this IRRRB funding,” said Langowski.

There is $39 million in the workforce housing program up for grabs as well, and the city is hopeful they can “get a big piece of that.”

When the city first put the project proposal together, they questioned whether they would be able to get adequate funding for the project.

With the IRRRB application the city put in last week, and the application for workforce housing funds which they will submit before the end of April, the city is hopeful they can stay below $3.5 million in bonded debt for the project.

For the bonded debt, the city would need to utilize St. Louis County HRA’s debt capacity.

Though there are a lot of moving parts with this project, the city is happy to have found a developer for the much-needed workforce housing.

“It’s looking like we’re at least on the second step of a 50-step process, but I feel a lot better today than I did a month ago,” said Langowski. “They (D.W. Jones) know it can be a successful project, and they think they can get the award. They’ll build the project and when it’s done, turn the keys over ready for rent.”

The city hopes there would be around 12 months of construction, and that they could break ground one year from now and have occupancy start in two years.

“It’s a long timeframe, but this is how long this project has taken to develop,” said Langowski.

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