by Joni Astrup
An uptick in interest from industrial prospects is prompting the city of Elk River to consider expanding a business park three years earlier than planned.
Phase II of the Nature’s Edge Business Center was scheduled for 2017, but the city is looking at moving that up to 2014.
Brian Beeman, Elk River’s director of economic development, said the city has been getting two to three calls a day in the last month from potential businesses including manufacturing, expansions and relocations.
“I’ve had to send a few of them down the road just because we don’t have the land that they’re looking for,” he told the Elk River Economic Development Authority on Monday.
Moving up Phase II of the business center would help the city be prepared for any development that may come this way, he added.
The city doesn’t have a lot of “shovel-ready” sites for industrial uses now, said Jeremy Barnhart, Elk River deputy director of community operations and development. Many businesses are looking for lots that are 8 to 10 acres in size or larger, he said.
Both the EDA and the City Council discussed the matter Monday, and both showed interest in moving up the opening of Phase II. One key will be whether the city can secure grant funding. The cost of designing and constructing Phase II public improvements like roads and utilities is estimated at $1.3 million, with $500,000 of that proposed to come from state grants and the rest from city funds.
Phase I opened in 2012 off Highway 10 and 171st Avenue, near the Northstar train station.
Since then, one lot has been sold to Preferred Powder Coating, which broke ground in October on a 100,000-square-foot building. Two smaller lots are still available. They are 4.1 acres and 4.7 acres in size.
Phase II would open up three additional lots for development. A preliminary concept shows them at 8.3 acres, 11.2 acres and 19.2 acres. The 8.3-acre lot is along Highway 10 and slated for retail development, but the other two are planned for industrial users.