by Dennis Dalman
The Sartell economy is getting much stronger because of job growth, private-sector expansion, new developments, public-private partnerships, support from the city and, last but not least, community spirit, said Sartell Mayor Sarah Jane Nicoll.
Nicoll gave a very upbeat annual State of the City speech at the Sartell Area Chamber of Commerce’s March luncheon at the Living Waters Church in Sartell.
Using a power-point slide presentation, Nicoll referred to just about every aspect of life in the city, in particular the new and upcoming activities in process now or soon to begin.
ET Manufacturing, a Canada-based company that builds large specialty hauling trailers, purchased nine acres on the former Verso paper mill site.
ET plans to use that site as one of its manufacturing centers.
Trinity Logistics is constructing a new office building of 13,216 square feet on 2.9 acres of land in the city. The company is a brokerage service for routing truck transportation throughout the nation. The new office building is expected to open this June.
PineCone Vision in Sartell is also constructing a 9,297 square-foot building on 1.32 acres of land, with a May opening planned.
New or expanding residential developments include Savanna Oaks, Oak Ridge Commons, Avalon Village, Legends of Heritage Place and Pinecone Cottages.
Another major living complex under construction is Chateau Waters, a 180,000 square-foot, two-story deluxe apartment complex of 100 units on nine acres just south of PineCone Marketplace in south Sartell. The complex is a partnership between CentraCare and St. Benedict’s. The first phase of the project should open this spring; the other phase in summer of 2016.
Other housing developments include Arbor Trails, to open in April; and Madison Crossing projects, which includes Victory Apartments 2 and Grandview 3.
The massive demolition process at the former Verso paper-mill site is nearing completion and should be completed by the end of spring.
There are 730,000 square feet of building area at that site, which is why the City of Sartell is doing a repurposing study to evaluate existing conditions for market analysis, the industrial market, the commercial market and the residential market.
That planning is now underway.
Visions and goals
The city is updating and expanding its Comprehensive Plan for 2015.
The city council with input from staff is evaluating the following for the plan: Economic Development (how the city prospers), Communications and Engagement (how residents connect), Public Safety (what makes people feel comfortable), Planning (how the city grows), Community Culture (what makes the city interesting), Parks and Open Space (how residents play), Transportation (how people move here and there) and Sustainability (what makes the city viable).
A future land-use plan is under review by city staff and the council, from very low-density to high-density residential. The project known as Sartell Town Square, which is expected to be Sartell’s “downtown area,” will have a new land-use category comprised of many permitted uses. Conception drawings for that area, in south Sartell, are in the works.
A Mississippi River Redevelopment Plan for just north of CR 1 is being considered as an extension of the highway currently by Epic Center and the Twin Rivers Court area.
Sauk River Regional Park also continues to develop, with a parking lot, trails and signage added. To acquire land for the park, the city received $1.5 million in state funding, and the city has dedicated $60,000, part of the agreement to get the state funding.
Thanks to residents approving an extension of the regional local-option half-cent sales tax, Sartell will have incoming revenue to pay for many projects in the coming years.
The first $900,000 collected from the area’s five cities will go for regional projects such as improvements at St. Cloud Airport, interconnections of the regional trails system and the aquatic center in St. Cloud.
In Sartell, 50 percent of the revenue received by the city will pay for regional roadways and trail facilities in the city, and 50 percent will be used to acquire and/or improve parkland and open spaces in the city. The revenue will also be spent to build a community center that will include a senior center under its roof, as well as other facilities such as – perhaps – a gym, pool and walking tracks.
A step-by-step plan for the community center, which is expected to be built well within the next two years, has been approved by the council.
Work will soon begin to improve the heavily traveled Pinecone Road, the busiest arterial road in Sartell.
Three roundabouts will be installed along Pinecone Road – at 2nd Avenue S., Heritage Drive and Scout Drive. Much of Pinecone will also be resurfaced, including its busiest portion, with concrete rather than asphalt.
The city is also doing a study of the LeSauk/Dehler Drive area at CR 1, in conjunction with county plans for roadways in that general area.
Taxes for Sartell residents remain the lowest of taxes in the five area cities.
In the meantime, building permits are showing a healthy increase. In 2014, there was a total of $17,215,700 in the value of single-family permits issued. In 2013, that number was $16,172,570 and in 2012 it was $10,725,000.
The average home’s permit value is $235,831, an increase of $8,048 from 2013.
The total building valuation in 2014 in Sartell was $27,550,056. Last year, there was a total of 2,140 building inspections within the city.