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Developers: Apartments would fill need in Red Wing

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Developers: Apartments would fill need in Red Wing
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

RED WING - A 60-unit apartment building has been proposed for the Pottery District that developers say will help fill Red Wing's need for market-rate housing.


Northstar Development has been working for just more than a year to design, plan and get the proper permits in place to build the 3.5-story apartment building at 1919 Old West Main St.

"We have a lot of different employers in town who are calling around town and asking where can they rent an apartment," Northstar Development president Kenneth Bush said. "We've got a lot of employees that work in town that drive to town but can't find a place to live."

The proposed apartment building would include 36 one-bedroom apartments and 24 two-bedroom apartments. Once built, Bush said he hopes the building will attract workers in their 20s, baby boomers hoping to downsize and some senior citizens.

"It wouldn't be income-based," he said. "I'm trying to supply a need for proper housing for folks that are working."

Randal Hemmerlin, executive director of the Red Wing Housing and Redevelopment Authority, added that while his organization is not involved with the apartment project, there is a need for rental properties in Red Wing. This proposal would help fill that need.

"My understanding is the demand for rentals is far exceeding the demand for single-family homes," he said. "The market is very tight."

A market study shows Red Wing has only a 2 percent vacancy rate for rentals, Hemmerlin said. He added that when that number drops below 5 percent, it signals a need to build more apartment buildings.

In addition, the Red Wing's Comprehensive Plan, which was written in 2009, calls for a contemporary apartment building to be built either in the downtown or downtown fringe area. Bush added that his company followed the comprehensive plan "to a T" when developing the plans for the building.

"Our goal is to maintain the character of the Pottery District and maintain the character of the community," Bush said.

Building on Old West Main Street is an added benefit for the city's historical pottery district, Hemmerlin said.

"It would be a huge impact for that area," he said. "You're looking at (around 120) people coming and going. You're looking at the impact directly to those businesses."

The HRA is working to redevelop and improve the Old West Main Street area.

Bush, who is working with fellow Northstar Development owner and architect Steven Setzer to design the building, said every unit would have a washer and dryer and fireplace in unit.

The building would cover three lots. One lot is occupied by Sears, which Bush said is willing to relocate. He added that his company would help Sears find a new location.

"What I would prefer is we keep them in Red Wing, we keep them in the Pottery District," he said.

A permit and variance request was reviewed by the City Council at its Jan. 28 meeting.

The variance request is for a Red Wing zoning ordinance that calls for at least two parking stalls to be constructed for every apartment unit. The current proposal from Northstar Development includes 60 underground parking stalls and 38 outdoor stalls. The proposal states that an additional 40 street stalls could be used.

The City Council tabled the matter and plans to take action Feb. 11.

Once the CUP and variance passes, Bush said there are still a few more things to be ironed out -- including revisions to the buildings landscaping -- before building can begin.

Bush said the goal is to break ground on the apartment building in the spring of 2014