Coon Rapids plans to buy three nonconforming lots

The city of Coon Rapids wants to purchase three vacant, nonconforming single-family homes in an area north of Main Street adjacent to Bison Creek Park.

The Coon Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authority, which comprises the seven members of the Coon Rapids City Council, has directed staff to work with the Twin Cities Community Land Bank in negotiating purchases of the properties at 2285 Main Street and 2335 Main Street and to work with the seller at 2245 Main Street to negotiate a purchase agreement.

If and when the negotiations are complete, the purchase agreements will be brought to the housing and redevelopment authority for approval.

All three properties are designated for park, recreation and open space use in the city’s comprehensive plan and zoned conservancy district.

According to Matt Brown, community development specialist, residential uses are not permitted in the conservancy district, making the properties nonconforming.

And the 2245 Main Street residence has been unoccupied for more than a year – several years in fact – meaning that it cannot be occupied as a residential home anymore under state law, Brown said.

The property is owned by Shamrock Development, which is a willing seller, he said.

The homes at 2285 and 2335 Main Street have gone through foreclosure, have been vacant for less than a year and are on the market for sale by the banks that own them, Brown said.

“All three of these properties are in generally poor condition and have generated code enforcement activity,” he told the council.

None of the three properties have access to city sewer and water, relying on well and septic systems, according to Brown.

The septic system at 2285 Main Street has failed and would need to be replaced if the house is sold and reoccupied, Brown wrote in a report to the authority.

Extending sewer and water to this area was considered by the council a few years ago, but the cost was deemed too excessive, he wrote.

If acquired, the homes would be demolished and staff is proposing that the properties become part of Bison Creek Park, Brown said.

“This would provide an opportunity to improve the trail system that currently dead ends in Bison Creek Park, he said.

“Their proximity to Main Street does not make for a good residential environment.”

According to Brown, staff has worked with the land bank in the past to negotiate the purchase of the bank-owned properties because quick reaction is needed when they become available and it is often difficult for staff to use its conventional method of negotiating purchase agreements.

The land bank negotiates directly with the seller with the direction of city staff and when it acquires the property, the land bank immediately sells it to the city.

In directing staff to move forward with the negotiations on the purchase of the three parcels, the authority, on the recommendation of Brown, set caps of $100,000  as the sale price on each property.

The property at 2285 Main Street is listed at $154,900 and $104,900 at 2235 Main Street, Brown said.

According to Councilmember Jerry Koch, a realtor by profession, the list price of 2285 Main Street was now down to $125,000 the evening of the authority meeting July 2.

Councilmember Denise Klint said the proposed purchase of the properties was a great idea. She is very familiar with the properties and they are not in good shape, Klint said.

Asked by Councilmember Steve Wells about the status of the parcels at 2321 and 2309 Main Street, which lie between 2335 and 2285 Main Street, Community Development Director Marc Nevinski said 2321 was acquired by Anoka County for a storm water retention pond as part of the Main Street reconstruction project, while 2309 has a single-family home that is under private ownership.

Peter Bodley is at
[email protected]