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Willmar, Minn., to consider 2nd application for rehab funds

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Housing and Redevelopment Authority on Monday will ask the City Council to approve a second funding application to continue downtown commercial and residential rehabilitation efforts begun two years ago.

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HRA Executive Director Jill Bengtson will ask the council to support the proposed Small Cities Development Project application for just under $1.1 million from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

The project proposes to rehabilitate owner-occupied and commercial properties in the target area bounded by Pacific Avenue to Willmar Avenue and from First Street to 10th Street Southwest. The project includes owner-occupied properties in Raymond.

During the first project, the HRA received $814,790 in 2010 and assisted 11 downtown commercial businesses, 16 homeowners in Willmar and 7 homeowners in Pennock with improving their storefronts and making other improvements to their businesses and homes. The two-year project ended Dec. 31.

According to Bengtson, the current application is due April 12 at the Department of Employment and Economic Development. She says the application process is extremely competitive. Program funding has decreased by $6 million in the last two years to $13.8 million and the department is expecting future decreases.

DEED invited 73 cities to apply and anticipates funding 25 to 30. Willmar's application will focus on continuing the first rehab program in the downtown commercial area and complement the adjacent area with single-family renter occupied and owner-occupied rehabs.

Bengtson discussed the application Thursday with the council's Community Development Committee. The discussion was for information purposes only and no committee action was taken.

Also on Monday, the council will consider approving a contract with the Flaherty and Hood law firm of St. Paul for city attorney services and appoint attorneys Chris Hood and Robert Scott as the city's primary legal counsel.

Also, the council will consider approving a contract with Anderson Law Offices of Willmar for city prosecutor services.

The council on March 22 appointed both law firms to provide services to replace Rich Ronning, who retired Friday after serving 37 years as city attorney.

In other business Monday, the council will receive comments from the public during the open forum, receive the Community Development Committee report, and consider a fire contract with Willmar Township.

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