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The DL waterfront project will include wood, metal and masonry. Th project includes commercial space at ground level, as well as a couple of residential units and then three stories of residential units. (Graphic courtesy of Icon Architectural Group)

DL waterfront design approved, extension granted

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The Detroit Lakes Development Authority has approved the design of the DL Waterfront project, a mixed commercial/residential building located at West Lake Drive and Washington Avenue.

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"We made some adjustments -- some of it is budget driven and some of it is comment driven," Developer Drew Olson said of the redesign.

"We took ideas that were unique and the use of pretty cool materials."

While the DLDA passed the design unanimously, members were a little more concerned about the timeline and deadlines of Olson's project. The project has already received deadline extensions, and it received one more Tuesday afternoon.

When Olson previously asked for an extension, he was granted one until July 15. When asked Tuesday about meeting that deadline, he said it would be tight and that he didn't realize what all needed to be done by that deadline.

One of the main concerns has been Economic Recovery Zone Bonds and how they come into play, a process that has been lengthy.

The original extension stated Olson would have the land purchased by July 15, and although it isn't yet, he said he hopes to have it purchased by the end of the month.

Besides the purchase of the land, the DLDA is also asking for a financing plan, detailed project schedule, $5,000 fee and application and the design approval, which the authority did that day.

"Otherwise I don't think we have any guarantee and maybe we should start looking at other projects," Community Development Director Larry Remmen said of finding other developers and projects that could use the $1.3 million in recovery zone bonds.

He added that Olson should have submitted his paperwork a month earlier to avoid needing another extension.

Olson said he's been taking direction from a bond attorney out of the Twin Cities and was told it's about a two-month process, adding he felt his hands were tied because of that process.

"I didn't know the process," Olson admitted.

"Not many people know the process," Remmen agreed.

The city has $1.3 million in recovery bonds, but Olson will only be using $1 million of that with the more budget conscious design. Member Mary Beth Gilsdorf asked if the DLDA should advertise the remaining $375,000 to see if any other developers are interested in the assistance.

"I would say someone wouldn't use $375,000, but $1.3 million sounds more appealing," City Administrator Bob Louiseau said.

Chairman Jim Anderson suggested that Olson have the laundry list of items completed by July 20, and if not, the DLDA would take action then.

"Know that we're not sitting on our hands," Olson said, listing the things he's been working on with the project. "Some things are market driven."

Olson hopes to begin some demolition work on the site within the next couple weeks he told DLDA members, and then the lot will sit empty until he can sell the required 50 percent of the space and construction will begin. He said he hopes to break ground this fall.

The Waterfront is a 24-unit residential project with an average of 982 square feet per unit. There will also be two guest suits in the building for guests of the unit owners. The ground level of the project, besides two residential units, is reserved for commercial space, which Olson said he's had three to four businesses interested in.

Underground parking has always been questionable for the project because of its proximity to Detroit Lake.

"It turns out soil was the biggest concern," Olson said, adding that location is the one of the worst for soil in Detroit Lakes.

As for the underground parking, Olson explained that there is a type of concrete that keeps out water, if there should be any unforeseen leaking problems.

"I don't want to come in here to pout and cry, but it's not the easiest time to do something like this," Olson said of the project.

DLDA member Ton Klyve said he was concerned the extra five days wouldn't be enough for Olson complete the list of things to do, so he suggested an extra week, pushing the next development authority meeting to July 27.

The other members were OK with the extension, but Remmen said of the five items, Olson could have three done within a day, the land sale he's supposedly going to have done by the end of the month, and the final item -- financing -- "either he can do it or he can't."

Olson's deadline was unanimously pushed to July 27.

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