Federation Update[IMAGE]

by Erik Hare

Little change has come from the Parks Department in this project, which is still centered around the development of four soccer fields on the site. However, the Federation’s role is stepping up and working to arrange a meeting with all the affected neighbors to understand exactly how the community feels about this potential asset and how it balances against the increases in traffic and noise in the area.

Diane Gerth, past Federation President, talked at length with the Board to clarify their role with the Capital Improvement Budget Process, a citizen involvement system for allocating increasingly scarce city money for big projects. We have to have a proposal in by January to allocate money for staff time so that Victoria Park planning can be done properly.

Ralph Jacobson came to talk as part of his promotion of the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society. They hope to have 1,000 houses and businesses installing solar water heaters on their roofs across the city — enough that the purchase of these systems can be done in bulk, saving everyone up to 80% of the purchase cost after all the tax credits are included. It’s a unique opportunity to save money and energy without having to put in a lot of money up front. More information can be found at the Federation office or at mnrenewables.org.

A general agreement is continuing to come together to make the redevelopment of this landmark property possible. The partners include Dominium Development, Bruce Hendry, and the Federation.

Dominium has a long track record developing properties like this both in the city and the suburbs, and their involvement centers on the tax credits that come from developing historic properties. Dominium would take the old Bottle House and the “castle” at the center, probably for residential development. Hendry, the current owner, would retain some of the property for his development. The Federation, acting mainly with city money, would take the Rathskeller and large warehouse on Seventh.

Coordination of all these groups is critical, so the initial agreement will take some time to move forward. There is a general understanding in principle, but many details have to be worked out — especially parking. The current plan is to open up Webster Street through the site and to make Oneida a “private drive” with a lot of parking that would also more-or-les be open through the site.
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