Dan's News & Views Blog
Dan’s News & Views Blog: July 2017
19 July 2017
Every month, I plan to give the Red Wing community my perspective on development activity. I was hired in March of this year to be the city’s first Community Development Director in a newly reorganized department at City Hall. The “Community Development Department” includes planning/zoning, economic development, permits/licenses, and building inspections.
Four boards and commissions exist within the department, including: (1) Planning Commission, (2) Port Authority Board, (3) Harbor Commission, and (4) Heritage Preservation Commission. This department will be moving into the Ignite Building next door to City Hall by the end of 2017 to help facilitate a one-stop-shop approach to future development activity (a new building name will be forthcoming).
Over the past few weeks, I have observed development activity ranging from renovation to destruction. Renovation has included the repurposing of a downtown vacant commercial space of nearly 16,000 square feet into a new retail/call center for the Duluth Trading Company. Destruction has included the demolition by 3M of a large 100,000 square foot vacant building they recently purchased on Pepin Avenue, which was previously occupied by Riviera Cabinets. Both projects are important to the future economy of Red Wing, ranging from a new business in the historic downtown district to a new development opportunity on a 10-acre parcel.
3M’s acquisition of Capital Safety in 2015 would likely not have happened without the intervention of the Red Wing Port Authority in 2005. Capital Safety was close to leaving Red Wing due to limited expansion options, so a local development corporation was formed with the support of four lending institutions and the Port Authority. That arrangement led to Capital Safety purchasing the previous Jostens building, which then led to a 60,000 square foot expansion in 2014. Today, 3M employs 466 people in Red Wing, which will continue to grow by at least another 40 positions in 2017.
“Community Development” goes beyond business and job growth. It’s also about supporting and expanding opportunities for housing, arts, recreation, tourism, education, historic preservation, river commerce, and much more. Red Wing is seeing more activity in these areas. Examples include multiple school renovations, city infrastructure replacements in neighborhoods, preservation of the Carlson Lime Kiln next to Barn Bluff, and the completion of a river trail segment from Levee Park to Bay Point Park. Recent development activity includes a 60-unit market rate apartment building near Walmart and a 71-unit Holiday Inn Express to locate on Old West Main Street.
Red Wing is fortunate to have had a state bonding bill recently approved that provides $4.4 million toward a new transient dock on the river ($1.09 million), improvements to the Levee Park dock and promenade ($1.95 million), and renovation of the Sheldon Theater ($1.36 million). The bonding bill also approved $5 million for Port Development Assistance, which will benefit Red Wing’s port (and Port Authority) as one of four waterway ports in the state. These improvements are part of the Red Wing River Town Renaissance.
So, stay tuned each month for my News & Views blog; Red Wing is a beautiful, vibrant river town!