Plans are to renovate it into 12 senior-living apartments

    Almost an entire city block in downtown Crookston will be given a huge breath of new life, after the Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority (CHEDA) board of directors Thursday morning recommended city council approval of a five-year tax abatement for Sanbridge Properties, which is close to sealing the deal on their purchase of the former Super Valu building that will be renovated into 12 apartments for senior citizens.   

    The abatement approval marks the first major example of the city's effort to offer a flexible incentive package when various development projects are in the works and developers seek the city's involvement. The long-vacant, one-time home of the Crookston Super Valu grocery store is currently generating around $2,500 in city property tax revenue per year, CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth said, adding that the the five-year abatement will result in a total tax revenue loss of around $12,000. Considering the added value to the property, however, he said the loss will be recovered entirely in the first two years after the abatement expires.   

    It's expected that the Crookston School Board and Polk County Board of Commissioners will also be asked to abate their portion of the property taxes for five years.   

    Partners John Bridgeford and Hector Santellanes make up Sanbridge Properties. Their most high-profile project to date has been the renovation of the old funeral home at the corner of South Main and Loring Street into apartments. The technical name for the entity involved in the Super Valu project is Strategic Developments, LLC, Bridgeford said, due to the involvement of a third party.   

    Bridgeford said the sale should close in a week or so and the project will get underway this year. The 12 apartments in the single-story building will be ADA accessible, and the building will have one main entrance and exit. A green space will be added to the south side surrounded by fencing, to give residents on that side privacy when they're outside on their patio space, he explained.   

    "It's going to be a very nice piece of property when all is said and done," Bridgeford said, adding that the exterior of the building will receive a makeover with some stone work and stucco.   

    The total investment will be in the $500,000 to $600,000 range, he added, making the case for the request for the abatement. "The dollars weren't as big on our previous projects so a tax abatement wasn't a necessity," Bridgeford said. "But, for this, the tax abatement is a big deal; the first five to seven years are the hardest because of such a big principle to deal with."   

    Hoiseth said the abatement is a good investment for the city, with a good return. Board member Paul Eickhof added that he thinks the fencing component will be very important for not only privacy but also for the appearance of the property. "It will be nice to see it occupied," he said. "It's a good building."   

    "It's going to change downtown significantly," Bridgeford said. "You're talking about an entire city block, basically."   

    It's likely that the space between the former Super Valu building and U.S. Post Office, which is part of the sale, will be closed off to traffic and fenced off, Bridgeford said, adding that dumpsters will likely be tucked into that area.   

    Hoiseth noted that the Downtown Redevelopment Task force that met several times a couple years ago indicated that adding residential housing options downtown is critical to a vital future for downtown. "Better living spaces downtown that bring people there was a top priority," he said. "This is a great repurposing of that."   

    Bridgeford added that the project meets essentially every major pillar that's driving the Crookston InMotion strategic visioning initiative.   

    The abatement requests will progress rapidly. It's likely the city council will act on the request Monday, Oct. 14. The commissioners could act on it as soon as Tuesday, Oct. 15. The school board would likely have it on its Oct. 28 meeting agenda.