Though the pandemic slowed down development nationwide, two major housing projects are still moving forward in the Pine City area.
“Some of our big development projects haven’t taken off quite yet because of COVID, but we do expect them to break ground sometime here in August,” said Pine City Community Development Director Lezlie Sauter.
• Summit Development plans to put 103 units of senior housing on the south side of Northridge Avenue just north of Welia Health System (formerly FirstLight) in Pine City. The completed project will be called Timber Pines Senior Living Facility, and will be a three-story building with indoor parking. The development will include independent, assisted and memory care facilities. Summit Development has partnered with Walker Methodist to provide the services.
• Since 2017, Commonwealth Development Corporation has been working at putting 35 units of affordable housing in Pine City in a project called Hilltop Cottages. The units in Hilltop Cottages would be wood-framed townhome-style buildings, and the project would be built on 5.85 acres of land located south of the Minnesota National Guard Armory on the west side of Highway 61.
Pandemic programs – and side effects
Sauter said that COVID-19 and the statewide shutdown had the Pine City Community Development office switching gears.
“We wanted to support our Main Street businesses,” Sauter said. “We have a gorgeous downtown, and it’s really hard to see them all shuttered up right there in March. It was heartbreaking.”
She said they worked with the Pine City Area Chamber of Commerce to keep local businesses informed of programs that could help.
“We just kind of kept our finger on the pulse of what was coming out of the state,” she said. She also noted that the city’s Economic Development Authority set aside funds to offer loans of up to $5,000 to local businesses, but only three local businesses took the loans.
She said that the next big step is to see how the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act can be used to help deal with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Pine City area.
“How do you address how COVID affected our community, and where should that money go? We would like to see it in the hands of the people that were financially impacted,” she said.
On the bright side, Sauter said that she loves how restaurants and patrons have embraced the outdoors.
“I’m loving the new patios,” she said. “The extra outdoor dining does feel special.”