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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • CHEDA taking a cooperative approach to housing growth

  • House in Ross’ Carman View development will be built through new cooperative
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  •     The findings of a $12,000 housing study that "basically says we can't do enough," according to CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth, continue to result in out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to spurringhousing development in the Crookston community.   
        The latest idea to come forth? A "housing cooperative" of sorts that will involve CHEDA, a developer, lumber yards, plumbers, electricians, contractors, suppliers and any other stakeholders that would be involved in the construction of a home, and share in the profits when it sells.   
        The developer who will be involved in the first go at the cooperative is Kevin Ross, who's built some homes in the Carman Addition on Crookston's south end and is looking to build more as part of his "Carman View" development.   
        "The project is kind of spinning a little bit, and he approached and said he'd like to participate in something," Hoiseth told his CHEDA board of directors. "Everyone will put out a piece to build this house up, everyone will take a small amount of risk, and everyone will benefit."   
        The goal will be to have the first house to spring from the ground as a result of the maiden cooperative effort framed up by the fall, "So maybe next spring we'll have a reasonably priced house that's marketable to a pretty wide audience," Hoiseth said.   
        The CHEDA board liked the sound of the idea, giving Hoiseth the go-ahead to keep putting the deal together, which will involve CHEDA "putting up some money to bridge the financing gap."   
        Hoiseth said there is a "lot of interest among the players around town" in dabbling in something like a housing cooperative, and Ross is an ideal developer to launch the first go at it in a development that the city previously extended utilities to.   
        "Kevin's done a good job there, it just hasn't been aggressively received; he is a good community partner, and if this goes reasonably well, maybe next year we look at a different area in town," Hoiseth said. "Some suppliers in town are willing to step to the plate and they're willing to wait for a return on their investment until it's sold. There are people out there saying 'I want to help the Crookston housing market and I have a little money available to help, and CDs aren't paying much right now.'"   
        CHEDA will take the lead in forming the cooperative, with interested parties bidding to be included on a competitive basis. Local interest will be sought first and, if need be after that, out-of-town participants will be sought, Hoiseth said.   
    Page 2 of 2 -     The idea initially grew from talk at a couple CHEDA meetings about pre-fabricated home manufacturer Homark of Red Lake Falls potentially putting up a sort of signature, showcase home in Crookston, Hoiseth recalled.   
        "That spurred some calls from some people wanting to do something," he said. "The thinking was, if Homark is potentially willing to come here, maybe we're willing to do something local right here, too."   
        The nuts and bolts and other details involving the cooperative aren't yet finalized, like how formal/informal it will be, how the profits will be divided up specifically among the partners, the design of the first house (which Ross will oversee), the house's price point, and what will happen if the home takes a long time to sell. CHEDA's role will be most important, Hoiseth said, in the event the latter transpires.   
        "We will at least provide insurance that no one is going to lose their shirts on this, especially if it stays on the market for some time," he explained.   
        Ward 4 Council Member Hector Santellanes said he's a fan of the idea, and of making the first go at it on the south end of town. "More housing on the south end would be good," he said. "There's a lot of focus on the north end, but what's being done on the south end there, that's a nice place to build a home and live."
        

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