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Willmar City Council approves contamination cleanup grant application for Block 25 Lofts project

Cleanup is needed on a downtown Willmar lot slated to be the home of an apartment complex, including petroleum, a fuel tank leak and solvents used by a former dry cleaning business.

An empty city lot with a "sold" realty sign.
Willmar City Council approved being the fiscal agent for a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development contamination cleanup grant for Lumber One, the developers who will be constructing Block 25 Lofts apartments.
Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune file photo
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WILLMAR — Another incentive for the developers of Block 25 near downtown Willmar was approved by Willmar City Council at its April 18 meeting.

Lumber One Developers purchased the property to construct the Block 25 Lofts in May 2021, the first major project in the Willmar Renaissance Zone , an economic development district created in 2020 by the city.

The lot is located between Second and Third Streets Southwest and U.S. Highway 12 and Benson Avenue.

The west side of the block was a public parking lot and the east side was private property, once home to Nelsen's Laundry. Contamination at the site includes traces of petroleum on the west side of the block and a fuel tank leak and contamination from a dry cleaning solvent on the laundry side of the site.

Due to contamination at the site, it is eligible for a contamination cleanup grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, according to Willmar City Planner Kayode Adiatu.

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Past stories related to Block 25 Lofts development
A list of stories previously written about Block 25 Lofts

The grant requires a match of 25 percent, and the developers have committed to doing so. However, the grant requires the applicant be a government entity, Adiatu told the council.

The estimated cost of cleanup at the site is $409,548. The developer's 25 percent match is $102,387, of which 12 percent, or $12,846.50, must be unrestricted funds. Therefore, the grant amount from DEED would be $307,161, according to Adiatu.

Environmental costs accrued prior to the grant award can be used to meet the matching requirements, and the developer has already met the matching grant requirement, Adiatu said.

Previous incentives for the development include selling the city's portion of the land to Lumber One for $4 and tax increment funding.

A representative for Lumber One in attendance at the meeting told the council they were hoping to break ground within the next week.

Jennifer Kotila is a reporter for West Central Tribune of Willmar, Minnesota. She focuses on local government, specifically the City of Willmar, and business.

She can be reached via email at: jkotila@wctrib.com or phone at 320-214-4339.
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