City once again looking north for future residential housing development

Mike Christopherson

With the City of Crookston moving away from a potential purchase of 62 acres of land east of Eickhof Boulevard from developer Bob Herkenhoff that would have been a focus area for future residential housing opportunities, the City is now looking once again to the north side of Polk County Highway 11/Fisher Avenue, on land the City already owns north, northeast and east of Crookston Sports Center, as the next major residential development.

At this week’s city council Ways & Means Committee meeting, engineer Rich Clauson from Widseth presented two updated residential subdivision layout options for council members to further peruse. The first “more traditional” option includes 192 residential lots, he said, while the second option, which includes a couple of cul de sacs, includes 205 home lots.

Unlike concept drawings of the area presented to the council several years ago, which also included things like playgrounds, duplexes and multi-family housing, the two new layouts include only single-family residential lots. With Drafts Sports Bar & Grill and The Meadows apartment complex being developed since the previous drawings were presented, Clauson said the focus has shifted more toward single-family residential lots. The two options still include two lots for commercial development to the east of Drafts, he added.

Known as the “CSC Subdivision,” several years ago the area seemed like a no-brainer as the next major housing development in Crookston. But chronic drainage problems during the spring thaw that have flooded on multiple occasions the area around the apartments and the frontage road put in by the City dampened enthusiasm for developing the area. In recent years, Herkenhoff’s Nature’s View Estates development on the south side of the highway, buoyed by various collaborations with the City, has become the primary location for new residential housing in the community.

Both updated CSC Subdivision options presented by Clauson this week include retention ponds. Some of the larger lots border the ponds, he added. The cul de sacs in the second option are attractive for homeowners who don’t want through-traffic in front of their homes, Clauson said, but he  acknowledged that they are a headache for City snow-removal crews.

City Administrator Amy Finch told council members to study the drawings and come up with questions that will spur continued discussions. Assuming the council at some point picks its preferred option, Clauson said it would serve as a “starting point” that would allow Widseth to start laying out utilities and addressing drainage issues. 

“Overland water issues are a big discussion,” he said, adding that suggestions from Polk County would be welcome. “We need to address drainage before we really dive in,” Clauson continued. “When you start talking about moving water, people get nervous. People don’t want water coming toward them.” Clauson added that the reconstruction of Highway 11/Fisher Avenue on tap for this summer might result in some drainage solutions as well by “getting the water to move more efficiently to the east.”

A lift station is already in place that would be able to serve the subdivision, he added.

“This isn’t going to happen overnight. …But we can take a step back and figure out what we want the whole area to look like,” Clauson said. “Once we determine that, then we can figure out what it will cost to extend utilities” and figure out how many lots might be involved in the first phase of making some lots available for purchase, he continued. “Then we can work our way north or east or wherever we want,” Clauson said.