Senior housing project delayed to at least 2025

By Robert Williams


The Vergas Economic Development Authority (EDA)/Housing Redevelopment Authority (HRA) spent the majority of their monthly meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 4 discussing the marketing process to sell the HRA-owned eight lots in the Sunny Oaks addition.

Compounding the sales are the special assessments attached to each lot for sewer and water infrastructure. The city installed $250,000 of infrastructure into the Sunny Oaks addition in 2009. One lot was sold, but the family that owned the property turned it over to the state.

The Vergas HRA had a lengthy discussion on this topic in September that led to different sales scenarios and price points with a caveat for future owners in that assessments can be paid over a 20-year span.

The lots vary in size and topography, according to HRA member Joy Summers.

“Some of those center lots are really small,” she said.

Summers, a professional realtor in Vergas, will be listing the lots. She recommended pricing the lots at $25,000 each on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

“We need to make what we can,” said President Kevin Zitzow. “I’d rather wash my hands of them and be done with it.”

Zitzow and city council liaison Bruce Albright both suggested varying the prices on the lots, but agreed with Summers’ rebuttal that there is not a significant difference in each of the lots and that each lot has its own set of pros and cons.

A resolution was unanimously passed to list the lots for sale for $25,000.

A second resolution was passed to list the properties with RE/MAX Lakes Region, with Summers abstaining from the vote.

County lots

The Otter Tail County HRA owns three of the 11 lots in the addition with a plan for affordable, senior housing. That construction will be delayed until at least 2025.

In July, both the Vergas City Council and Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners held meetings and made mutual decisions that will allow for future senior and affordable housing on the 11 tax-forfeited parcels within the City of Vergas known as the Sunny Oaks Addition.

Eight of the lots were sold from the county to the Vergas Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) at the cost of $1 per lot for development of affordable housing. The remaining three lots were conveyed to the Otter Tail County HRA for the development of senior housing.

The county HRA is currently developing senior housing in New York Mills, Ottertail and Vergas, with the aid of a grant application for funding. The bulk of state funding for the project is 2024 money, with the possibility of some grant money being awarded still this year. With that not happening, the project could begin as late as 2025.

CEDA visit

Jordan Grossman, a Vergas resident and the Community & Business Development Specialist from Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA), attended Wednesday’s meeting.

The EDA/HRA had been visited earlier in the year by CEDA president and CEO Ron Ziegler and whether or not CEDA services could be used was dependent on state grant funds.

“We were very fortunate that we did receive that funding from the state,” said Grossman. “Right now, they are still working through the process of what they’re looking for as far as which communities will be eligible for those funds.”

Part of Grossman’s visit was to gauge interest from the EDA/HRA.

During Ziegler’s visit, one specific task EDA/HRA wanted from CEDA was communicating with local businesses face-to-face to assess what can be done to help support those businesses.

Grossman has been doing similar business development in Pelican Rapids.

The board discussed other aspects of CEDA assistance to cities for future reference, pending the funding.