DL council approves $1 million in TIF for hotel development

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Though it was not unanimous, the Detroit Lakes City Council approved a resolution Tuesday that will establish a tax increment financing district and TIF financing plan for the proposed hotel, condominium and restaurant redevelopment project at the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and West Lake Drive.

At the behest of the council, developer Troy Hoekstra gave a brief update on the project, noting that with the council’s approval of the TIF plan, he expects to close on the financing at the end of the month, with construction to begin shortly thereafter.

He also briefly went over some of the improvements that had been made in order to satisfy the concerns of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The stormwater holding pond that was included in the project in order to alleviate runoff concerns was designed to meet a “100-year storm event,” he noted.

“We were held to the highest threshold relative to that,” he added.

They also “completely redesigned” their landscaping plan to incorporate only plants that were on the DNR-approved list, and changed their parking lot design to incorporate pervious pavers instead of blacktop in order to address concerns over the amount of impervious surface included in the project.

Though she acknowledged all of the work the developers had put into addressing the DNR’s concerns, Alderman Jamie Marks Erickson nevertheless voted against the TIF plan, noting that she would have preferred to see more of the discussions with the DNR about shoreland development take place in an open, public format, rather than in private.

The measure to approve just over $1 million in TIF financing passed by a 6-2 vote, nonetheless, with Alderman Barb Schiller casting the other dissenting vote.

The council also approved a temporary expansion permit for La Barista to operate a sidewalk cafe in the designated area of Washington Avenue outside the restaurant that had been widened and fenced to allow for outdoor seating. Under the terms of the permit, La Barista will also be permitted to serve beer and wine in the outdoor area, from July 15 until Oct. 15.

In other action, the council approved a resolution to seek proposals for a feasibility study that will evaluate options for addressing space needs and other concerns of the city’s police and administration departments.

City Administrator Bob Louiseau noted that both the police and administration facilities were “into their maximum” with regard to their usable life expectancy. 

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the council voted to continue a public hearing on the proposed annexation and rezoning of a 4.64-acre property on the east side of Highland Drive, owned by Robert and Joyce Spilman, into the city of Detroit Lakes.

The council decided against acting on the annexation and rezoning request after nearby landowner Jeff Swanson came forward to inform them that he had received notice of the annexation, but not the rezoning — and he had some concerns about rezoning the property as “R-3,” which would allow it to be developed as apartments rather than twin homes or single-unit housing.

Even though Spilman stated emphatically that he had “absolutely no desire to build an apartment building” on that property, Alderman Bruce Imholte noted that since the landowners had not been properly notified of the zoning change, the council could not approve it until the notification had been given.

Mayor Matt Brenk asked if Spilman would want them to approve the annexation without the rezoning, and Spilman said he would prefer to wait until the rezoning could be approved as well. The council voted to continue the hearing until its August meeting.

Another public hearing, to discuss the possible revocation or suspension of the liquor license for Burnside’s Char House and Pub, was postponed until the council’s Sept. 8 meeting. Mayor Brenk said that the business had been given until Sept. 10 by the Minnesota Department of Health to address the concerns that had led to the revocation of its food and beverage license, which was why the city was considering the revocation of its liquor license as well.