Hotels, apartments — no deal too big for Chatfield in 2022 – Post Bulletin

CHATFIELD — If you don’t dream big, you won’t achieve anything big.

The city of Chatfield has some big dreams for 2022, but those dreams look like they could become a reality.

Monday during a committee meeting before the city council meeting, city staff and council members discussed two potential big-ticket projects for the city: an $8 million hotel project and multi-family housing developments.

Chatfield City Clerk Joel Young said while the goal of breaking ground on two big projects is lofty, the city has been working on these goals for some time.

“Everything on here might look really ambitious,” Young said. “To me, it’s the number of items.”

Young said the city had a hotel built in the early 1990s that was eventually expanded to about 20 rooms, but about 10 years ago Kwik Trip bought the property and razed the hotel. The city has been wanting to get a replacement hotel ever since.

The needs of the city have grown over the decades, too, Young said. Phase II of the Chatfield Center for the Arts expansion and renovation will be completed this fall. In addition, the Joy Ridge Event Center has been completed.

The hotel, said Chris Giesen, Chatfield’s economic development director, would likely be constructed next to the event center with a prominent spot overlooking U.S. Highway 52 on the way into town. The plans now are for a 49-room hotel with an indoor pool.

“We’re still trying to secure the financing,” Giesen said. “Right now, we’re about $1.2 million short, and we’re looking at different avenues to close that gap.”

Some of the usual financing tools include tax-increment financing and tax-abatement, but TIFF won’t work due to the nature of the project, and tax-abatement will need not just the city but the school district and the county — Olmsted County — to sign on as well.

Giesen said the city is working with state legislators Carla Nelson and Greg Davids to introduce special legislation to allow TIFF to be used, but the city won’t find out if that is available until May.

Still, that would meet the project’s timeline of getting construction started in the fall so indoor work can be finished through the winter and the hotel could be opened in spring 2023.

Monday night, the EDA recommended funding a new study to back up a previous study from four years ago, and all the “common sense” evidence supporting the need for a hotel, Giesen said.

It helps that the group of people behind the hotel project are from Chatfield, so they understand the need.

“If we can’t get this one across the finish line, I don’t know if we’ll get enough energy there again,” Giesen said.

While the city doesn’t want to help along any project that isn’t right for the city, Chatfield Mayor Russell Smith said getting a hotel is overdue, and the city should explore all the options available.

“We may use some special tools because this is one of the key things that Chatfield has been lacking for a number of years,” Smith said.

As for the apartment complex, Young said the city has more than one developer looking to make a deal.

One would build a 12-unit complex in the city, and a second would build something closer to 30 or 40 units within walking distance of the historic downtown area.

Young said an apartment complex would help in a couple of ways. First, the city now has its first real strategic plan for development, and apartments would help bring new residents without forcing the kind of sprawl into the Bluff Country that the city would like to minimize.

Second, apartments would help diversify the housing options for people moving to Chatfield and, hopefully, create an affordable option for people who don’t want to make the leap to home ownership.

Young said Chatfield is due for a new apartment complex. The last one was built around 1999-2000, and the ones before that were in1984 then early 1970s.

“It’s probably time for another multi-family housing project to happen,” Young said. “There’s a need for housing at every point of lifestyle.”

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