Sharp & Associates says it can buy and develop a city-owned business park property in Ramsey that another company was unable to develop.
“Dennis Sharp is a well respected, local developer,” said Patrick Brama, assistant city administrator and economic development manager.
Brama said this Anoka-based developer has done projects in Ramsey, Anoka, Maple Grove and Osseo, for example.
Sharp & Associates’ development style is to have smaller tenant spaces in buildings for those businesses that are in early stages. Brama said he has talked with a number of business owners that started out of their garage, moved up to a 250-square-foot suite in one of Sharp’s buildings and then a double suite and then eventually worked with Sharp to construct a separate building.
The same model would apply to this new Ramsey development on the southeast corner of 143rd Avenue and Jasper Street. It would purchase 9.33 acres from Ramsey but start with one 50,000-square-foot building on half of the site. The other half of the property would be reserved for two to three smaller buildings, Brama said in his June 13 report to the council.
On a 6-1 vote, the council approved a purchase agreement with Sharp & Associates to sell the 9.33 acres for $606,622.
This past October, the city had agreed to sell this same property to Platinum Properties for $810,000, but the two sides never closed on the land sale.
Platinum’s anchor tenant was going to be Adrenaline Sports Center, which is looking to move from Coon Rapids to Ramsey to get a much larger facility than it has today, This business is now looking at another property in Ramsey within a brand new business park that PSD, LLC is working on north of Highway 10 and west of Armstrong Boulevard.
Council Member Kristine Williams had supported Platinum’s purchase agreement, but voted “no” for Sharp & Associate’s purchase agreement. She would prefer the city receive more money up front, even if it eventually ends up with less money because of incentive timelines met by the developer.
Furthermore, Williams is not thrilled by the prospect of Sharp & Associates only planning to use half of the property for one 50,000-square-foot building while holding onto the rest of it for future projects.
“I feel we are incentivizing and subsidizing speculative development within the community,” she said.
While Platinum Properties had offered $810,000, Ramsey had agreed to reimburse up to $410,000 of that amount if Platinum completes a two-phase, 123,840-square-foot project by March 1, 2019.
Sharp & Associates can receive no other incentives, but could have to pay a $150,000 letter of credit if it does not receive a certificate of occupancy for this 50,000-square-foot building by July 1, 2019.
“We’re approaching it from a penalty rather than an incentive,” Mayor Sarah Strommen said. “I don’t have a strong feeling if one is better than the other in this particular case.”
Brama said city staff’s preference would be to have a higher price and offer incentives since it puts more risk on the developer to retain that money, but he said this was the agreement Sharp & Associates wanted. It was up to the council to make the final call and almost everyone was supportive.
Brama said the city typically has listed the industrial property it owns at a per square foot range of $1.75 to $2.25. Sharp & Associates is paying $1.50 per square foot for the 9,33-acre property.
However, the council in previous closed sessions have discussed deal ranges they would be willing to accept and Brama said this offer still falls within that range.
For Council Member John LeTourneau, it’s simple; he wants the city to sell land to get it back on the tax rolls.
“That’s really all we’re trying to do is sell land,” he said. “Mr. Sharp is a known commodity in our community and he’s a great representative of some very good projects.”