Cottage Grove's 2013 development exceeded projections
Last year was a productive one for Cottage Grove, both commercially and residentially, as year-end data shows development modestly exceeded projections in 2013.
A steady influx of new retail prospects and housing developments spurred activity in the city, a sign Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey said that business is back on track.
“I would say we are moving in the right direction but I don’t think we are quite there yet,” he said in a recent interview. “I think as we continue to go through 2014 we’ll see a very large rev-up of business, whether that be housing or commercial.”
From a residential perspective, the housing market is beginning to show signs of “returning to some normalcy,” City Administrator Ryan Schroeder added.
Before the recession, the city completed construction of around 241 new housing units per year but saw a drastic decline in 2006. Since then, the annual average was around 61 units.
However, despite the last seven years reporting the lowest housing production levels since 1970, Schroeder said residential development is on the rise.
Early housing projections for the year anticipated the construction of roughly 35 new homes but Schroeder reported 56 units were built in 2013. Another 70 housing units is projected for 2014, and 100 more in 2015.
The Cottage Grove City Council last year approved the preliminary and final plat applications of a number of housing developments, specifically in the 4,000-acre East Ravine area.
The long-term vision of the development is a combination of low, medium and high density residential neighborhoods and several retail shops, with the roundabout at Keats Avenue and 70th Street being a main thoroughfare.
To date, Meridian Land Company, Ryland Homes, Newland Real Estate Group, MJR Developers and D.R. Horton have all been approved to build a number a single-family homes.
“There has been a lot of activity in that regard,” Schroeder said. “But it all depends on continued production, the economy and general interest rates.”
By 2016, Schroeder said the city is projecting the construction of around 150 new units per year.
Commercial activity ‘very good’
Construction on several commercial properties and movement on potential future deals also took place this past year.
Schroeder recently told the Cottage Grove Economic Development Authority that commercially, 2013 was a “very good year.”
Roughly $34.6 million in building permits were doled out, making 2013 the fourth most productive year from a permit standpoint since 1982.
The two largest construction projects Schroeder cited was the expansion of 3M Abrasions — during which the company refurbished five buildings, the largest being 25,000 square feet — and the groundbreaking and construction of a 177,000-square-foot Walmart Supercenter.
On a more modest scale, several other retailers opened their doors, including Tumble Fresh, M’s Tailor, Anytime Fitness, who had a grand re-opening, Modern Automotive Performance and the Business Enterprise Center, which currently houses several tenants.
Later this year, a new G-Will Liquors location, Goodwill and Walmart are expected to open.
Schroeder said there continues to be significant developer interested in several parcels of land in the currently developing East Ravine area and in the undeveloped area near the West Draw Park neighborhood.
Bailey attributed the recent uptick in commercial and residential development to the fact that city officials are “reaching out to the business community and marketing ourselves,” he said.
“I do believe that is bringing awareness and people are beginning to look at Cottage Grove again,” he added. “We are open for business, absolutely.”
City to develop Business Park marketing strategies
With commercial and residential real estate improving on the east side of Highway 61, development on the west side of the highway has been stagnant.
In an attempt to draw more business to the west side of the city, specifically to the Business Park, the city has enlisted the help of commercial real estate marketer Craig Lien.
Lien, the vice president of Colliers International, a Twin Cities-based commercial property marketing firm, currently has land for sale near the Business Park.
Last month, Lien embarked on a market study of the area and is expected to present his results in the near future, Schroeder said.
“We need to try and cultivate this fertile ground,” Cottage Grove City Council member Dave Thiede said. “We need to put our thinking caps on and find out how we can get some things going.”
Thiede, also a member of the city’s Economic Development Authority, suggested holding a conference to enhance the Business Park’s visibility and analyze feedback from businesses that chose another city over Cottage Grove.
He added that he was happy to see Lien conducting a market study of the area, saying the city needs “to have as many tentacles going out as possible.”
Another marketing package recently discussed is to create a building blueprint that potential businesses can see prior to choosing the Business Park.
Schroeder said part of Colliers’ market study would be the completion of a building layout that the city would then hand to potential end users.
“It’s like having a spec building without the cost of a spec building,” he said, adding a layout is expected sometime between late February and early March.
Bailey added he would like to have more discussions in the future about possible branding and marketing plans.
“We, as a collective group, need to have more conversations about this and I think this would be a good opportunity to get a council workshop together,” he said.