DEED grant would assist with some rehabilitation work

    Although the City of Crookston is not directly involved in the project, the city council, at a Ways & Means Committee meeting this week, agreed to serve as the "pass through" entity for the non-profit Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership as it pursues funding as part of its purchase of the Nimens-Espegard Apartments in Crookston.   

    Lisa Graphenteen, chief operating officer for the Slayton, Minn.-based partnership, attended the meeting and told council members that the partnership is seeking a grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for some rehab projects the partnership is planning to do at the three-building apartment complex at 1700 Widman Lane. In order to get the grant, she said the partnership needs the city to be the pass-through entity.    

    The council has approved similar requests now and then in the past when various agencies or entities have needed a fiscal agent to secure funding from various sources. There will be a resolution on the council's Nov. 12 meeting agenda.   

    Graphenteen said the rehabilitation project will largely entail energy efficiency and water conservation improvements, and parking lot and sidewalk improvements. "It's pretty minimal; the owners have done a good job," she said, adding that the new owners are planning to stick with the current management company, Greater Minnesota Management. "They've done a really good job maintaining it," Graphenteen added.   

    Asked by Interim City Administrator Pat Kelly what spurred a housing partnership based in southwest Minnesota to pursue a project in northwest Minnesota, Graphenteen said the partnership has grown significantly in its 21-year existence, and is actually pursuing a change in name to reflect its expanded geographical scope. The owner of the apartment complex on Crookston's north end was potentially interested in selling, she said, and was presented with several agency names that might be looking to buy it.    

    "This is a good operation," Graphenteen said. "The tenants won't notice hardly any changes, only the improvements."