Duluth Council Aims For Housing Development At Lester Park Golf Course
Maybe it'll be a hole-in-one for developers and taxpayers. The Duluth City Councils has shown their approval of selling off a portion of the Lester Park Golf Course to a developer in order to establish a housing development.
The move would also aim to add revenue to the bottom line at an unprofitable golf course that's owned by the City of Duluth.
At their meeting on November 22, the Duluth City Council unanimously voted to "transfer ownership of about 37 acres of land at Lester to the Duluth Economic Development Authority, in hopes the organization can successfully market the property to would-be housing developers". According to details in the Duluth News Tribune, the land that would be sold sits to the southern side of the golf course; it 'constitutes about 14% of the total golf course property".
This most-recent move isn't a new idea for shoring up the losses at Lester Park Golf Course. About seven years ago, and then again a year ago, the city tried to segment off about 50 acres for housing development.
With this current effort, the city would parcel off the land in pieces - "or as a whole at market value". If sold and the development ends up being successful, it would be a great benefit to the Lester Park Golf Course. Analysts suggest that the market value of the land is about $1.3 million. "Any proceeds from the sale of the property are to be plowed back into Duluth's public golf program, and specifically the Enger Park Golf Course".
While the proposal passed muster with the Duluth City Council, there was some conversation about the terms - specially the length of years that the land transfer to the Duluth Economic Development Authority would be active. Duluth City Councilor Joel Sipress shared:
"My one concern is that this land transfer to DEDA will be for up to seven years. They'll have seven years to pursue this land development. And we have no idea who is going to be mayor seven years from now, and we have no idea who the DEDA commissioners will be. We have no idea who city staff will be. And I imagine it to be likely, but there is a worst-case scenario, where if there's a change in perspective from a future administration, and if DEDA goes ahead and sells this land to a developer in violation of the stipulations in the development agreement, and if due to the views of a future administration, the city does not enforce the development agreement, I've asked the city attorney to let us know, what recourse would a future city council have?"
Monday night's approval vote was for the proposal to move forwards. Before it actually becomes an ordinance for sale, the entire council would need to vote again on that measure.