HRA director shares more information on future of Harborview Apartments
Joe Friedrichs

HRA director shares more information on future of Harborview Apartments

The future of an apartment complex in Grand Marais that had community residents feeling left in the dark appears to have more clarity following a sale of the building Oct. 13.

Jason Hale is the director of the Cook County Housing Redevelopment Authority. He said during an Oct. 19 interview on WTIP that the new owner of Harborview is Kaizer Holdings LLC, a Duluth-based company.

“(The new owners) at this point really are trying to get their arms around how to operate the structure and the property from a distance,” Hale said. “They are not opposed to working with the HRA to figure out how continued affordability can work.”

In that sense, there is more that is known about the future of Harborview, primarily who the new owner is. Who will continue to live at the local apartment complex, and how much they will be charged for rent beyond 2025, remains unknown to a certain extent, Hale acknowledged. According to the HRA, the “affordability contract” with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at Harborview expires June 30, 2025. The new owner must give at least a one-year notice to tenants if they intend on changing rent fees or if they plan to convert the property to market rate. This means they could inform tenants of their intention to change the format with HUD by June 30, 2024, at the earliest, according to Hale. This timeline is important as there was widespread community concern on social media pages in the days leading up to the Oct. 11 HRA meeting that tenants at Harborview were facing immediate eviction following the sale of the apartment complex.

According to the (HRA), Harborview was listed for sale for approximately $2.2 million about eight months ago. Harborview – which is located at 11 E. 3rd St in Grand Marais, about two blocks up the hill from Highway 61 and Johnson’s Foods – is a HUD subsidized Section 8 senior and disabled apartment community. The property was built in 1978 and consists of 31 units, including 27 one bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom units.

In the leadup to the Oct. 13 sale of Harborview, there was community-wide concern, including among some residents of the apartment complex, that Harborview would be turned into expensive condominiums. In the recent WTIP interview, Hale said he was informed by the new owner that “they have no intention of making it into condos.”

“That’s not really their business model,” Hale said. “Their model is to acquire buildings, make some improvements, and then continue to rent them as is rental property.”

During a public meeting of the HRA Oct. 11, Hale said the organization was aware of concerns in the community about the pending sale of Harborview.

“This is a legal, private transaction over which neither the HRA nor the city or county has any leverage or right to stop,” Hale said.

The audio below is HRA Director Jason Hale sharing an update on the situation involving the Harborview Apartments during WTIP’s fall membership drive.