16-unit workforce housing project moves forward following city council approval

16-unit workforce housing project moves forward following city council approval

A proposed 16-unit apartment project in Grand Marais moves to the next phase following a 3-1 vote from the city council on Feb. 14. 

The proposed project is located on the former Tomteboda Motel site in front of the city public works building and next door to WTIP. Only a portion of the city-owned lot will be used at this time. The proposed 16 units would include eight studios, six 1-bedroom apartments, and two 2-3-bedroom apartments. Developer Alex Duval said the rent would be 80-120 percent of the area median income (AMI), a metric for affordable housing. 

During the Jan. 31 city council meeting, Jason Hale, the executive director of the Housing Development Authority (HRA), approached the city to gauge interest in city participation in the potential 16-unit apartment development project. 

The city participation would involve selling the land to the HRA for $1. 

Hale is exploring funding for the project through the workforce housing development program. The application deadline to apply for the funding is Apr. 30. 

The workforce housing development program allows small to medium-sized cities to build market-rate residential rental properties in communities with proven job growth and demand for workforce rental housing. The program requirements state that communities are required to secure funds that match one dollar for every two dollars in funding. 

Following discussion and review of the market value rate during the Feb. 14 meeting, the city council agreed to show its support for the project. 

“To put our backing behind this seems to make a lot of common sense,” Grand Marais Mayor Tracy Benson said in an interview with WTIP. 

The sale of the lot will only take place once funding is secured. In the meantime, Hale said, “The keys can stay with the city until the project happens.” 

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Grand Marais Mayor Tracy Benson following the Feb. 14 meeting to talk about the proposed 16-unit apartment project and The Heights tax abatement request

The audio from the interview is below.