EDA discusses housing, Superior National Golf Course, and future development projects

EDA discusses housing, Superior National Golf Course, and future development projects

The Economic Development Authority (EDA) met on Tuesday, Oct. 17, to discuss a handful of agenda items, primarily centered on approving resolutions. Within the meeting, the recently hired EDA Executive DirectorTheresa Bajda, also presented an update on her onboarding process and the advancements she has achieved thus far. 

The first resolution unanimously approved by the EDA board was a resolution authorizing the EDA to issue $50,000 to the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) to provide assistance for housing development projects. The EDA had originally allocated $100,000 for the HRA for housing-related projects. Earlier this year, in April, the EDA approved the transfer of $50,000 to the HRA to assist One Roof Housing in moving forward with its acquisition process and application for resources for Birchwood Apartments. 

The HRA intends to use the remaining $50,000 to support predevelopment costs associated with county-wide housing projects. “Typically, those are the hardest to fund,” Bajda said during the meeting. “So think survey work and wetland delineation.” 

Another resolution approved by the EDA board was authorizing the application for and, upon approval, acceptance of a housing grant of up to $750,000 from the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRR). The grant will support the construction of the Heights, a multifamily residential project located east of Up Yonder on Highway 61.

The Heights project is one of two development projects by the Cook County Real Estate Fund. The Cook County Real Estate Fund is a partnership between local investors and Revocity, a Northfield, Minn. company that works with rural communities in the upper Midwest. Two Cook County Real Estate Fund members, Steve Surbaugh and Howard Hedstrom, serve on the EDA board. 

The organization purchased the 3-acre lot immediately east of Up Yonder in the spring of 2022. During the Oct. 17 meeting, Howard shared that the organization is working with Ideal Homes, a Minnesota-based company specializing in building modular homes and buildings. The multifamily residential project will include 36 units, and the estimated project cost is $8.3 million. 

Howard and Surbaugh abstained from voting due to their involvement in the Cook County Real Estate Fund. 

Other resolutions on the agenda and approved during the meeting included a procurement policy and authorization for retainers of legal counsel and professional services. 

Superior National Golf Course

The golfing season in Lutsen is coming to an end over MEA weekend; the last day at Superior National Golf Course is Sunday, Oct. 22. While the golf course has had a successful summer, Mark Shackleton, the EDA treasurer, said Sept. was a solid month for the Lutsen golf course. 

So far, year-to-date sales at the golf course are up 24 percent compared to last year. 

Housing Development Projects

Jason Hale, the executive director of the HRA, attended the meeting and provided an update to the EDA board on a wide variety of ongoing and future housing development projects. Since the approval from the city council to rezone two lots in the business park to R-1 residential, Hale has moved forward with ordering a wetland delineation of the two lots. He shared that he has already received interest from developers and will begin working on development plans for that property. 

Conversations continue with the ISD 166 school board concerning the approximately 21-acre school property on the north side of the Gunflint Trail. Hale shared that he received the results of the wetland assessment, and the property is unsurprisingly “very wet.” Only 10 acres of the 21-acre property have some level of feasibility for development. He will continue to explore options and put together some initial cost estimates. Hale intends to resume conversations with the superintendent and school board in Dec.