Boundaries expanded for commercial HRA loans in city of Anoka

by Mandy Moran Froemming
Union Editor

Anoka’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority is increasing its reach for the city-run commercial loan program.

The HRA’s board of directors agreed to expand the boundaries that once limited businesses from the city’s historic downtown district and West Main street to applying for the revolving loan.

Since 1989 the HRA has been offering the commercial rehab revolving loan program, which allows local businesses to borrow up to $25,000 at a low interest rate. The loan funds are earmarked for improving the exterior appearance of qualifying properties.

According to HRA Executive Director Jim Robinson, a lot of downtown businesses had taken advantage of the program in the past, but more recently the loan program has been underutilized.

Staff recommended the geographic boundaries be expanded to include the commercial properties along the Highway 10 service road (in the Greens of Anoka master plan) area as well as the commercial properties along East River Road between Fifth and Ninth avenues.

“We’ve had inquiries from parties who are interested in purchasing properties in both areas recently,” said Robinson.

They include the old Pizza Hut on Jacob’s Lane being considered by a medical supply company, as well as interest from a message therapy clinic in rehabilitating the old Hans Bakery building on Fifth Avenue.

“We think it would be a good implementation tool for the Greens of Anoka and perhaps some other businesses would be able to take advantage of it up there as well,” said Robinson.

The Greens of Anoka is a plan recently approved by the Anoka City Council that looks at redeveloping the housing and commercial areas around Green Haven Golf Course.

There was support from the HRA’s board to expand the boundaries of the loan program.

“When we started the program out it was mostly to do the historic area downtown and we’ve accomplished quite a bit,” said Commissioner Merrywayne Elvig. “We did add a little by adding West Main because we realized that was the next area where people would be wanting to do something.”

According to Elvig, both the area around the golf course as well as Fifth Avenue could use some extra help when it comes to redevelopment.

“I think expanding it for other opportunities is very wise,” Elvig said.

Commissioner Pat Walker suggested expanding the boundaries even farther in the future.

“The central business district gets a lot of attention and we were able take a bite of these programs early on,” said Walker. “But there are things that are happening on Seventh Avenue and north of Seventh Avenue all the way to the high school. I think some of the businesses could use this support also.”

HRA Chairman Carl Youngquist said he was in agreement with Walker’s suggestion and encouraged Robinson to come back with recommendations to continue expanding the boundaries of the program.

Since its inception, 17 loans have been issued through the program, which was originally funded with the designation of $150,000 in interest money generated by a tax increment financing district.

The maximum loan from the fund is $25,000. It is a matching loan with a participating lender, which provides and equal or greater match, according to information provided by the HRA.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]