The Northfield City Council on Tuesday moved to allow the development of approximately 24 market-rate and affordable units on the city’s southeast side.

Developer Maple Brook LLC requested tax increment financing to help acquire the 2.4 acres of property at the intersection of Maple Street S. and Ford Street E., to address a cash shortfall and address project site improvements.

The 24 units will be a mix of four- and six-unit, row-style townhomes consisting of two and three bedrooms. Twenty percent of the units are expected to be affordable for tenants with an income 50 percent of the area median income. Maple Street is expected to be extended south as part of the project at a cost of nearly $200,000.

Tax increment financing is seen as allowing cities to capture and utilize increased local property tax revenue from new development within a defined space. The agreement with the contractor is over 25 years for more than $435,000.

According to a presentation to the council, the developer identified a demand for affordable housing in Northfield before moving to purchase the property.

For the project to occur, major site improvements are seen as required, along with road construction, site preparation and foundation costs.

One of Northfield’s strategic goals targets 40 affordable housing units, which the project would help with.

Construction on the project is expected to begin this year, with occupancy by 2021.

In a public hearing prior to approval, Northfield resident David Ludescher said whenever tax increment financing districts are approved, developers are told a government entity will subsidize their taxes because they cannot afford the project without assistance, something that does not happen in the general marketplace. He said the quality of life in Northfield and a strict rental ordinance have made it hard for affordable housing to flourish in the city.

Ludescher, a former city councilor, said nearly every other tax increment financing project he has been involved with has had problems.

Councilor Erica Zweifel said the project will increase affordable housing and rentals, which she said are “desperately low” in the community.

“I look forward to supporting this project,” she said.

Erica Zweifel mug

Zweifel

Councilor David DeLong, who has stated in prior meetings the land where the complex is expected to be was supposed to be parkland, said building more affordable housing is a good goal but needs to be accomplished in a proper, transparent way.

David DeLong mug

DeLong

DeLong later moved to amend the development agreement to assess park dedication fees from 2003 to Maple Brook, but that motion was not approved. He then was the lone no vote on the development agreement that the council approved.

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115.

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