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Old City Hall site could become market rate apartments

The city, Washington County and Mesaba Capital are considering several possibilities for the reconstruction of the library and the proposed construction of an apartment building with a retial component, including the two sketches shown. Courtesy of the city of Cottage Grove

COTTAGE GROVE — A real estate development firm has noted interest in the old City Hall site for market rate apartments that would develop next to the new Park Grove Library.

Mesaba Capital submitted a letter of intent to the city to exclusively negotiate on that site that used to house City Hall and then the Business Enterprise Center. The Economic Development Authority approved the letter 7-0 at its Sept. 11 meeting.

The letter of intent is valid until the end of February.

Mesaba Capital is in preliminary stages of a three- to four-story apartment building with a possible retail sector on the ground floor, Community Development Director Jennifer Levitt said. The area is zoned for mixed use.

Della Kolpin with Mesaba Capital said Cottage Grove is in need of more market rate apartments and that this site is an ideal location for such a project.

She said project would include between 90 to 125 apartments, likely of one- and two-bedroom units.

The land was previously considered for a community center in conjunction with reconstruction of the Park Grove Library. Levitt said now that the Community Center Task Force has decided to add a pool to the project, there will likely not be enough room on the site to include everything the task force and residents want.

Staff and Mesaba are working with Washington County Library staff to work on what would fit on the site.

"We've all been trying to work together to try and partner and figure out what would work best for everybody," Economic Development Director Christine Costello said.

The county is looking at a 25,000-square-foot building, which would either need to be two stories or on a larger parcel.

During community engagement sessions this summer, county staff found that Cottage Grove residents want meeting space, technology, a book drop and separated adult and children book sections in the new Park Grove Library.