Wahpeton’s vacant city block may be redeveloped

Wahpeton is expected to soon sell a complete city block where Central Elementary once stood. Located in a residential neighborhood in eastern Wahpeton, the block will likely be used for housing.

With a 3-0 vote, the Wahpeton Finance, Personnel and Economic Development Committee is recommending the city council approve a request for proposals to develop the former Central Elementary site.

The city will likely be selling a complete city block bordered by Second Street North, Fourth Avenue North, Third Street North and Third Avenue North. Located in a residential neighborhood in eastern Wahpeton, the block is expected to be used for housing.

“(We are) seeking innovative ideas to redevelop the site and offer currently in demand housing options such as twin homes/townhouses and or workforce housing,” according to the drafted request. “Proposals may include (a) simple land purchase for an agreed upon amount, a custom development plan or a public-private partnership to mitigate the inherent risks in land development.”

Any interested party must submit a proposal on or before 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21. Proposals would be submitted to Finance Director Darcie Huwe at Wahpeton City Hall or at darcieh@wahpeton.com.

Wahpeton acquired the property for $40,000. Its disposition and redevelopment is related to general land use policies and goals established in the city’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan.

The plan was developed to enhance existing residential areas as high quality livable neighborhoods. Ideal neighborhoods are well-connected, provide a variety of housing types, enhance the vitality of the community, support efficient land use and maintain provision of cost efficient city services.

“The city reserves the right to reject any proposal,” according to the drafted request. “The property is located in the city’s Renaissance Zone district and may qualify for both North Dakota state income tax exemptions and local property tax exemptions (in whole or in part) for up to five years.”

Built in 1929 and expanded in 1949, Central Elementary was located at 212 Third Ave. N. in Wahpeton. It was demolished from winter 2016 through spring 2017.

Prior to Wahpeton’s purchase of the land, city leaders agreed it was in a great location and advised meeting with realtors, contractors or developers.

“I’m speaking about having a developer that would do the whole block,” Mayor Steve Dale said in September. “When we start trying to part everything off, we could end up with water and sewer lines in people’s backyards and it’s harder to access them. Having one person with plans for the whole block would make things easier.”

Community Development Director Chris DeVries and City Assessor Carla Broadland both said they have received calls from developers and parties who may be interested in the vacant block.

“The request is just the start,” Huwe said. “There will be negotiations, development agreements and more. The point is just to get this out there.”

A vote on the request for proposals is expected when the Wahpeton City Council next meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Wahpeton City Hall is located at 1900 Fourth St. N., Wahpeton. For more information, call 701-642-8448.

Daily News will continue to follow this story.

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