CENTERVILLE — The Centerville City Council has voted 3-2 (Council members Steve King and Russ Koski opposed) to approve a purchase agreement with Centra North of Coon Rapids to develop the city-owned block, which presently sits vacant.

The developer proposes to build 26 townhouses on 1.61 acres located on the west side of Centerville Road between Sorel and Heritage Streets.

Following a number of open discussions and closed executive sessions, the city negotiated with the developer about the purchase price, originally set at $350,000, and other issues, with an eye toward moving ahead with a purchase agreement.

The city will sell the land to Centra Homes for $1 but will offer no public assistance, such as tax increment financing (TIF) dollars. The developer will pay 100% of the usual fees, such as the sewer access fee, water access fee and park fees. 

During negotiations, the city raised three conditions to which the developer had to agree.

Project delays are to be capped at 24 months (two years), force majeure events notwithstanding. Force majeure events include unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract. Events beyond the developer's control that halt construction might include labor strikes, acts of nature, civil unrest and so forth. To move the project forward, the buyer must intend to finish construction of no fewer than 13 townhouse units within 12 months of closing. The remaining units must be completed within 24 months of the closing date.

The property must be returned to the city at the purchase price of $1 if improvements are not completed within 24 months. Improvements include all mass grading of the property, installation of all sanitary sewer lines and water lines, and the construction of the public trail and all private streets. 

The developer will put $65,000 in escrow to assure funding of the homeowners association in the event the project fails in the middle of construction and sale of units. This safety net will assure that the first homeowners won’t be left on their own to come up with homeowner costs, should the economy crash and the project fail midstream.

Because the developer agreed to all these conditions, the city administrator and city attorney recommended acceptance of the purchase agreement at the council’s Aug. 11 meeting. Now that council has approved the agreement, next steps will include preparation of site plans and a developer's agreement, which will finalize all the details hammered out during negotiation.

“I'm more excited to see townhouses in that land than apartments, because I don't think (apartments) would have fit,” said Council Member Darrin Mosher.

Mayor D. Love noted that the development is an opportunity to get something on the land that will not use up tax dollars and that will benefit the city as a whole. “The number one goal (for the transaction) is to benefit taxpayers as a whole, and that's what I think we're doing,” he said. “For the developer to go in on the homeowners' escrow was extra; we normally don't see that from developers. It says they want to be here, and that they care by going that extra mile.” 

Council Member Steve King said his vote would recognize the people living near Block 7 who were opposed to the development. “I was elected to represent the people, and that's the way I'll vote,” he said. “But when (people) tell me they don't want development, I say, ‘Develop, or you'll have to pay more taxes.’ I tell people to be involved!”

“I do have to acknowledge the people who weren't in favor of this development,” Council Member Russ Koski said. “But we can't move backward at this point.”

 

Loretta Harding is a contributing writer for Press Publications. She can be reached at news@presspubs.com  or 651-407-1200.

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