WILLMAR — The "for sale" signs on Block 25 in Willmar officially say sold and Lumber One Development Company of Avon hopes to begin construction this fall on the 57-unit, four-story apartment complex in downtown Willmar.

At the special Willmar Planning Commission on June 30, the commission unanimously approved the conditional use permit for the project.

"The project has proven financially feasible," said David Ramstad, Willmar Planning and Development director. "They are ready to go and eager to get started."

The Block 25 Lofts will be constructed on Block 25, which is situated between Second and Third Street Streets Southwest, bordered by U.S. Highway 12 and Benson Avenue in downtown Willmar. The west side of the block is currently a public parking lot, while the east side is private property and was once home to Nelsen's Laundry. The city sold its land for $4 to Lumber One in May and the private sale has also been completed.

"It is a pretty complicated site," said Ted Schmid of Lumber One.

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The building will have a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, with covered parking on the first floor. The design of the building will reflect the scale and aesthetic of the downtown area.

"The demand for smaller units seems to be particularly underserved," Schmid said. "We have a really excellent product we will be able to provide Willmar and ourselves."

The complex is also the very first Willmar Renaissance Zone project. Lumber One will be eligible, or has already received, a variety of incentives, such as nearly free city land, free building permits and tax Increment financing. All together, the incentives would add up to about $740,000 over 15 years. The total cost of the project is about $10 million, a huge investment for downtown.

"Probably the first project in half of a century of this size and value" to happen in the Central Business District, Ramstad said.

The commission did add one condition to the conditional use permit. There has been concern about the project taking away parking in downtown, along with whether the building will even have enough parking for all of its tenants.

The plan currently has about 70 spaces for the residents and guests. The condition asks that the developer keep the northern corner of the site, which is to be green space, as an option for building additional parking if it is needed.