Renville County OKs tax abatement to support $2.4 million Olivia, Minnesota, housing project

A developer with ties to Renville County is looking at a $2.4 million housing project on former hospital site in city of Olivia, Minnesota. Tax abatement from the city and county will help.

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OLIVIA — The Renville County Board of Commissioners approved a tax abatement request to help make possible a $2.4 million housing project in Olivia.

The commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to provide the abatement for the Olivia Oasis project.

Steve Elfering, a Bird Island native, and his spouse, Amie Kenyen, who own residential units and live in the Boise, Idaho area, are planning to build eight new patio homes on the former hospital site in the 600 block of East Fairview Avenue. The eight units will include one twin home and six single-family homes.

The commissioners approved an eight-year tax abatement of $71,000 in county taxes for the site. The city of Olivia is also supporting an eight-year, $181,000 abatement of municipal taxes for the project, Jordan Zeller, director of the Renville County Economic Development Agency and Housing Authority, told the commissioners.

The proposals called for expanding affordable health care by establishing a MinnesotaCare public option and more than a billion dollars in affordable housing proposals over the next four years.
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Elfering told the commissioners the abatements are needed to make the project feasible. The developer cited rising costs for materials and construction, as well as for financing.


The developer said he’s currently seeking bids for the initial work, including infrastructure development. He has faced challenges finding interested bidders for both the infrastructure and housing construction, and asked the commissioners for information on potential contractors.

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The commissioners urged Elfering to continue seeking bids after the start of the new year. They said developers in the region are busy completing work.

Zeller said the project is much needed in the county. A housing study previously completed for the county identified a need for new housing, and that need has continued to grow.

Elfering said he has appreciated the support the project is receiving from the county and city. He’s also optimistic that the project will find a good market.

He said he is hearing interest in the units. He believes they will serve a market including retired farmers looking to move into Olivia, as well as professionals who are moving to the area for positions with area employers.

The plans at the site of the former hospital call for single-level residences, each with two bedrooms and oversized, two-car garages and patio slabs. The former hospital was razed and the site cleared after the health system moved to a new campus on the east edge of Olivia in late 2015.

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoors reporter for the West Central Tribune.
He has been a reporter with the West Central Tribune since 1993.

Cherveny can be reached via email at or by phone at 320-214-4335.
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