Article by: Chris Giesen
CEDA Vice President Chris Giesen, who serves as the Chatfield Economic Development Coordinator, led efforts to assist Dollar General in building a location in Chatfield, MN. The Company recently broke ground in August 2019.
“Constructing a store like this may seem pretty straight forward and relatively easy; it’s a cookie-cutter design that can be built quickly,” said Giesen. “However, the site was extremely challenging and we had to use most of the development tools in our box to make it happen. The EDA wanted to see downtown grow and expand the local offering of services, and this project allowed it to happen.” Giesen noted that the project required many considerations and efforts such as site consolidation, rezoning, utilities and more. “The EDA and City got involved because of all of these issues. If we wanted redevelopment to happen here, we needed to assemble these properties because it was too much of a challenge for the private side to tackle it.” he added.
The City’s comprehensive plan initially called for an expansion of Chatfield’s downtown and the rezoning of several blocks of residential property to commercial. The homes downtown continued to be lived in for over twenty years, but the City stuck to its plan for redevelopment by purchasing the parcels when possible and getting the land ready for commercial development. The City also received a MN DEED Redevelopment Grant for $233,000 to move public utilities and improve a street. Over the course of many years, the City and EDA worked diligently to explore various commercial options for the property including a hotel concept and a Family Dollar.
In early 2018, a developer, DGI Development Corp, looked at the site and felt that it would be suitable for their Dollar General store. Giesen then worked with DGI to negotiate purchase and development agreements. The EDA was able to modify an existing Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district to assist with costs associated with the site and dirt work needed to make the property buildable.
There were some underlying issues with the property and its title that had to be solved by Giesen and his project team. Giesen, the city attorney, and city engineer worked diligently to correct or avoid all of these issues. Giesen expressed, “This project presented some difficulties that we had to collaborate on in order to solve, but it came together in the end. It was a team effort to get this project across the finish line. The EDA and City Council were great leaders through this process. The new Dollar General will present an excellent amenity for our residents and businesses in Chatfield. We are grateful that the project was able to come to fruition and that they will be a part of our community soon!”
Construction is now well underway and is scheduled to be complete in December 2019.