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Redevelopment, housing top Cottage Grove City Council’s initiatives

With projections for the future of development — both commercial and residential — looking favorable in Cottage Grove, the City Council recently came up with a list of long-term goals it wants to work toward in the coming years.

During an annual workshop last month, council members and city staff identified about a dozen initiatives which will be used as a development road map through the next decade.

They address the future of vacant properties, continued housing construction and plans to attract more businesses to the city’s Business Park and the Business Enterprise Center.

Vacant commercials properties are drawing attention. With a number of sites empty along visible corridors and main thoroughfares throughout Cottage Grove, specifically the Home Depot building, Mayor Myron Bailey asked during the city’s annual meeting last month if it was time to move on.

“I understand that it is getting somewhere and there are people interested in the property,” he said, “but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s time to cut it loose. I’m losing my patience.”

The former home improvement store, located in the Gateway North district on East Point Douglas Road, has been vacant for more than five years. It is a blight Bailey questioned if the city should buy it and try to sell it. However City Administrator Ryan Schroeder advised against that, saying three developers are making leeway and “I anticipate something happening within the next month.”

City Finance Director Robin Roland echoed Schroeder, saying the site, while vacant, still pays property taxes and if the city were to sell it, that revenue would be lost.

Also related to commercial development is an ongoing market study of the city’s Business Park. While all the available buildings in the park are currently occupied, the city is ramping up its promotions in the hope of attracting more businesses.

Housing issues

With the addition of several new residential developments, many of which have already broke ground, the city plans to shift its focus toward multi-tenant and senior housing.

Council member Jen Peterson said she often fields questions about the need for more affordable apartments, senior housing developments and medium-income housing.

A proposal for a multi-story senior housing facility to be located on the corner of Hinton Avenue and 70th Street was discussed in 2013 but has not come to fruition.

Peterson said she would like to see future discussions on how the city can accommodate more residential options for renters and senior citizens

The idea of conducting a city-wide survey was also placed on the table during the annual meeting. The last full survey was conducted in 2009, with a smaller one done in 2012.

Schroeder said with an anticipated cost of around $20,000, the survey is something that would need more discussion.

Other initiatives planned include:

  • Future of the current Public Works building
  • Facilitating more frequent meetings with county legislative personnel
  • Promoting and establishing a plan for the HERO (Health and Emergency Response Occupation) Center
  • Create a better understanding of the city’s role in roads
  • Future of the police K-9 program
  • Creation of a community garden
  • Creation of an Arts Commission