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Willmar council OKs step to seek $750K grant for downtown beautification, rehab of Lakeview Apartments

WILLMAR -- Willmar has been invited by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to submit a full application for a 2019 Small Cities grant. If the grant is approved, the funds would be used for downtown improvements and reh...

Tribune file photoA rehab project at the Lakeview Apartments building on Seventh Street Northwest will be funded if the city of Willmar is selected to receive a Small Cities Development grant.
Tribune file photo A rehab project at the Lakeview Apartments building on Seventh Street Northwest will be funded if the city of Willmar is selected to receive a Small Cities Development grant.

WILLMAR - Willmar has been invited by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to submit a full application for a 2019 Small Cities grant. If the grant is approved, the funds would be used for downtown improvements and rehab at the Lakeview Apartments.

"We scored in the highest tier," City Planner Sarah Swedburg said. The high score means Willmar has a good chance of receiving the full grant amount. "It is very exciting."

The Willmar City Council on Monday night approved a required resolution establishing a citizen participation plan. In this case the plan focuses on the public hearing.

The council set the public hearing for 7:01 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services building. The hearing will be held in conjunction with that evening's City Council meeting. The hearing will review the benefiting locations of the proposed projects, costs, financing and a schedule for the program. The council will then consider approving the submission of a full application to DEED.

Unlike past Small Cities grants, the 2019 projects will not focus on individual properties, like homes and businesses, but on larger projects.

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"They will affect the community," Swedburg said.

The 2019 grant application is requesting $750,000. If DEED approves the city's application, the money will be split between two projects.

The Lakeview Apartments project, which will replace windows at the high rise, would use $350,000 of the grant. Additional financing will cover the remaining costs of the project.

If all the windows at Lakeview need to be replaced, the project could cost around $2 million, based on numbers from the November preliminary application. The county Housing and Redevelopment Authority will oversee this portion of the grant on the city's behalf.

The remaining $400,000 would go toward streetscape improvement downtown, including beautification and lighting upgrades that are already in the planning stages. The Small Cities grant will be used along with other funds and grant monies to complete the projects, which could total nearly a $1 million, based on numbers shared in November when the preliminary grant application was approved.

"It would be improvements downtown to our streets and sidewalks," Swedburg said.

Willmar has successfully obtained Small Cities grant funds in 2018, 2012 and 2009. They have been used for homeowner, commercial and rental rehabilitation. The Willmar Main Street organization and city staff will oversee the downton portion of the grant.

The city submitted the preliminary application for the Small Cities program in Nov. 15. The full application is due Feb. 28.

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Erica Dischino / TribuneOld streetlights line Fourth Street Southwest in downtown Willmar. Willmar Municipal Utilities and city of Willmar staff have been discussing the replacement of the 208 light fixtures downtown.
Tribune file photo The Willmar City Council approved a resolution to move forward the city's application for a Small Cities grant this year. The application is for $750,000 which would be used for downtown beautification, including lighting upgrades, and a rehab project at Lakeview Apartments in northwest Willmar.

Related Topics: WILLMAR CITY COUNCIL
Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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