City of Anoka to buy vacant properties at Ferry and Pleasant

Anoka City Council has agreed to buy three pieces of property at the corner of Ferry and Pleasant streets, in the city’s busiest corridor.

The council unanimously approved purchase prices that will total $80,000 for the three pieces of vacant, bank-owned property at 2600, 2606 and 2632 Ferry Street.

“These properties are located in what we call a redevelopment area with the activity going on here,” said Economic Development Manager Erik Thorvig.

They are also located in the Commuter Rail Transit Village Tax Increment Financing District, which allows the city to capture additional tax revenues that must be used for redevelopment.

While he voted to approve the purchases, Councilmember Mark Freeburg did raise concerns about the city’s goals for redevelopment of the property at this busy corner.

“If we go ahead with these purchases I assume we’re stating the face that we’re going to be the buyer for the rest of the lots as they come on board?” Freeburg asked the other council members.

Councilmember Steve Schmidt said that was a possibility.

“Owning these properties does allow us to control somewhat the future of this area as far as redevelopment goes,” Thorvig said.

Mayor Phil Rice also said he had been trying to figure out what the ultimate goal is for the purchase of these lots.

“We do seem to buy properties and then not know what to do with them once we’ve bought them,” Rice said. “That’s a concern. It’s risky for us to buy properties because of course we can’t encumber future councils but yet we do want to be in a position to promote new projects.”

Rice did say the price was right to buy these three properties.

“In a city, typically if we want to buy something we usually have to pay more than a third of what it’s worth, in this case we’re actually getting them for what they are worth, and what we could sell them for,” he said. “We’re not paying too much.”

Thorvig explained that most of the land in this area has been secured by one property owner, who was not interested in buying the three bank-owned lots at this time.

“I see us not purchasing a bulk of these properties but instead working with the property owner who does own a bulk of properties toward a future development,” Thorvig said.

Councilmember Jeff Weaver was vocal in his support of the purchases, calling the area “challenged.”

“If we have any vision that we would like to see something happen here we either need to play ball or let it go and see what happens and forget about it,” Weaver said.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]

  • Pat Walker

    Our elected developers are at it again.
    A couple of years ago The Anoka HRA declined to purchase these properties because a private developer was planning to do it. We did not want to compete with the private market. Now that most of the land in this area is owned by a private party, the council wants to get in the way. Dictating down to the last brick just how it needs to be. It’s not enough that we have thousands of ordinances and building codes designed to direct the construction.
    You just bring us the applicants, and we will continue to pick the winners and losers.