Pickerel Park highlighted in Minnesota report on innovative strategies for producing affordable housing.

 
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Note: the following is an abstract of "Strategies for Producing Affordable Housing," released by the Office of the Legislative Auditor, State of Minnesota, January 2001.
In April 2000, the Minnesota Legislative Audit Commission initiated a study on factors limiting production of housing that is affordable to lower income people. The research found that building new housing - even basic housing - is expensive. Evidence suggests that land, labor, and material costs, which are heavily influenced by market forces are the primary contributors to the high cost of housing. On the other hand, some factors under government control, such as state building codes, taxes and local zoning and land use policies, also inhibit the development of low-cost housing. The study identified public/private collaboration as a key component of successful affordable housing projects.
Despite various factors that potentially limit the production of affordable housing, there are organizations successfully producing quality affordable housing. For these organizations, government intervention, particularly in the form of financial assistance, is a crucial part of building affordable housing. On a case-by-case basis, project developers and local officials take advantage of various types of regulatory relief, such as zoning modifications and fee waivers. Pickerel Park Apartments, the latest investment by Heartland Properties, Inc. in Minnesota was highlighted in the report.
In 1998, the City of Albert Lea initiated a request for proposals for affordable rental housing to meet the city's economic development and workforce needs. Newbury Development and Heartland Properties, Inc. was the team selected to produce 24 rental townhomes to be known as Pickerel Park. The development is scheduled for completion in 2001. Twelve 2-bedroom units will rent for $347/month and twelve 3-bedroom units will rent for $455. The City reduced project costs by waving $34,000 in park dedication, sewer and water fees and providing $107,000 in tax increment financing for street and utility extensions. The remaining $2.2 million in costs were financed with $1.3 million in housing tax credits issued through the Minnesota Housing Finance Authority. Alliant Energy, HPI's parent company, provided the private equity investment in Pickerel Park. Other important resources that made Pickerel Park possible included the Community Development Block Grant program and a low interest loan from the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund. Pickerel Park is an excellent example of the public and private sectors working together to meet housing needs for the local workforce.

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