By Barbie Porter
Years of hard work has paid off for the Frazee Economic Development Authority (EDA) as the Red Willow Height development is nearly at full capacity.
The development that offers modern homes began with 18 lots in 2003. The Frazee Electric Partnership, owned by Paul Thon, Frazee, and Lowell Bradbury, Vergas, saw potential in the land on the north edge of town.
Houses went up, land was sold to the United Methodist Church for a new building, and the development boomed. A second addition was created in 2006. Thon also partnered with Greg Damlo to include a third addition in 2006, as well.
The second phase offered 30, mostly single-family lots.
The third phase offered 18 lots, which were zoned for twin homes. Development on both sites began with welcomed success.
The abrupt end to the real estate boom happened when the housing bubble popped in 2007-2008, and the market crashed. Frazee Electric Partnership was able to hold out for several years, eating the cost of the stunted development. But, when the group decided to cut their losses and in 2011 the EDA gained ownership of 34 undeveloped lots through defaulted payments. Of the 34 lots, 20 were zoned for single-family residential, 10 were zoned for multi-family structures and the four lots along Becker County Highway 29 were originally zoned for business or apartments.
In addition to acquiring lots, the EDA received two $100,000 lines of credit from the developers. The city had to pay the tax bill one year, due to the date the EDA obtained the lots and the tax deadline. However, after the 2012 taxes were paid, the EDA was given exempt status for 15 years. The cost for installing city utilities and a road was $1.2 million. The city planned to recover those costs through specials assessments that were attached to lot prices. With a bottomed out market, the specials assessments made the lots a tough sell for several years.
Through ingenuity and waiting for the market to correct itself, the EDA plugged away, allowed spec homes to be built and found ways to reduce lot prices and make them very appealing to those looking to build.
During the monthly EDA meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 23, Frazee City Administrator Denise Anderson said the development on the remaining lots continues at a steady pace. She explained Dan Hohlzgrob is finishing work on a house that has a potential buyer. He is looking for other available lots to build another single family home of similar style. The house was reported to be a single story, on slab with three bedrooms and two baths with a single car attached garage.