Council Supporting Rehab Of Apartments
Britton City Council members were unanimously in favor of moving forward with the possibility of restoring the Leewood Apartments located on the south side of the city at the regular meeting of the council on Monday,
Representatives from SLH Holdings of Brookings met with the board to discuss their desire to own and operate the apartment complex in Britton. The building, previously owned by former Britton resident Bob Marx, has not been occupied in nearly two decades.
SLH would plan on spending about $1.3 million to completely gut the inside of the structure down to the studs and put in new electrical, plumbing, and fixtures. Plans call for going from 18 to 16 apartments to allow two apartments with three bedrooms to accommodate larger families.
SLH was asking the City of Britton to also have some “skin in the game” by purchasing the land and building and donating that to SLH. The representatives emphasized that the rehabilitated building would represent economic development for the city by reestablishing taxable property and providing living space for the city’s work force, which in turn spends money in the community.
“In this point in history we’re not a flyover state anymore,” stressed SLH rep Bobbie Bohlen. “We feel an opportunity exists to put a stake in the ground and build a place for young people to come back to. We definitely feel this represents economic development for the City of Britton, and we want to own property here and be a business partner here.”
The council did not take any official action but in a straw vote indicated its unanimous support for the project. Reliabank of Watertown held a lien on the property and purchased it at public auction last week for about $153,000, which included back taxes. The first step for the city will be to talk to the bank about the potential purchase of the property by the city with the idea of gifting it to SLH. SLH is also awaiting a decision on loan/grant money for the project from other sources, but is confident that it will be able to maintain an 80 percent occupancy rate in the building.
“This is SLH’s business model and what they do, and they came to us,” said Mayor Clyde Fredrickson. “They have bought and renovated properties across the state and in turn manage those properties. We do have apartment owners in town that possibly see this as a detriment to them, and we will be setting a little bit of a precedent. But if others want to invest in their properties we are willing to listen.”
In other action the council approved the law enforcement contract. The city’s share is $209,981 for the sheriff’s department and jail and $17,747 for 911 which adds up to a total of $227,728, a 15 percent increase over a year ago. City Finance Officer Marie Marlow said the increase is the result of new salary structures for the sheriff’s office and improvements made for the jail.
The county pays 70 percent of the law enforcement contract with Britton paying 67 percent of the remaining 30 percent and the rest split amongst Lake City, Veblen, Eden, and Langford.
The council also approved the first reading of the 2021 Appropriations Ordinance with a general fund of $2,363,368, an increase of three percent over a year ago. The tax levy would be $501,164. Taxes may or may not increase for city residents based on property values in the city.
Action was taken to pursue the purchase of railroad property. The state of South Dakota is planning to sell all its railroad properties and has sent a letter to all leaseholders, including the City of Britton. The city must first obtain a legal description of the property and approved a resolution to take the necessary steps to purchase the available railroad property. A meeting was also held prior to the council meeting for railroad property leaseholders to inform them of the process.
Approval was given for the second reading of an ordinance that holds property owners responsible if any damage is done to the city sewer system while working on projects on residential property. The board also approved a special liquor license for Snapper’s Dry Bean for a wedding at the Britton Area Event Center on Oct. 3.
Council members approved refurbishing the water slide and the mushroom fountain at the swimming pool at a cost of $41,767. The board also discussed the purchase of a public address system for the Event Center, and also the installation of an elevator in the facility. Cost quotes will be obtained. Approval was given to pave
Approval was given to pave three blocks of the city located on 10th Avenue from Eighth to 11th Street. Serocki Paving of Browns Valley, MN. will do the work at a cost of $63,076. City Public Works Supervisor George Flanery also reported that six to 10 blocks of sewer line in town and the lines at Horton, Inc., from the Industrial Park to the lagoon area had been cleaned and televised at a cost of $8,275.
Plans for National Night Out set for Oct. 6 were discussed. No meal will be served this year and the focus will be on Law Enforcement Appreciation at the Event Center. The Event Center will also mark its two-year anniversary on Oct. 16 with coffee and cookies.
A special meeting of the council is planned for Monday, Sept. 28, at 6 p.m. at the Event Center Theater. ISG Engineering will present a detailed Capital Improvement Plan at the session and the council will approve the second reading of the Appropriation Ordinance.