Professional Building site, lots along Barrette Street are suddenly potential options.

    Everyone seems to agree, whether it's someone representing the Crookston School District or the Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority, that the collaboration between the district and CHEDA that has high school construction trades students building a house each year on a city-owned residential housing lot is going about as well as anyone could have hoped.

    The problem is that suitable lots are getting harder and harder to find each year, especially with Evergreen Estates in the city's northeast corner all filled up.
    All of a sudden, though, some potential options for construction trades home lots have emerged, in the form of the handful of residential lots that could be developed where the Professional Building stood until a little over a week ago along Seventh Street, and the 17 home lots along the east side of Barrette Street that the city will give away as part of their agreement with developer Bob Herkenhoff and the Crookston Workforce Housing Homestead Act.

    "I think we might buy it," CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth said of the Polk County-owned Professional Building property at a CHEDA  Executive Committee meeting late last week. "We'll see how it plays out over the next couple months. If not us, maybe the city buys it."

    Ward 3 City Council Member and committee chair Keith Mykleseth, who represents the neighborhood, said he's spoke to some residents, who have said they'd like to see some single-family housing constructed on the site. "I would like to see us acquire it," Mykleseth added. "I think we need to make our intentions known."

    If such a purchase took place, that doesn't mean the parcel, which would likely be big enough for five or six homes, would automatically become a site for construction trades homes. But, Hoiseth said, it would be nice to have it in CHEDA's or the city's back pocket as an option. "Then we wouldn't have to jump around and find a new lot every year," he said.

    "If we secure those lots, it allows at least five years of planning ahead for the school district and us," committee member Craig Morgan said. "I'd like to get away from this year to year scrambling."

    A lot still needs to be found for the house the students will build during the 2013-14 school year. The goal is to have a site secured and a foundation poured prior to the start of the school year so the students can get started.

    The Barrette Street lots are a possible option as well. Although the initial language in the Crookston Workforce Housing Homestead Act stipulates that the city will limit a "client" to one lot, if interest in the lots is less than city officials are anticipating, CHEDA could get involved and the areacould potentially be home to a construction trades house or two. "I think we could be a customer there that makes sense," Hoiseth said. "If only three or four of those lots have moved by the summer, maybe it'll make sense for CHEDA to jump in."