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Bemidji, developers finalize south shore land deal

BEMIDJI — Preliminary construction of townhomes northeast of the Sanford Center will start Friday after the developers closed on the land deal Thursday morning.

B&B Enterprises LLC, operated by Bob Whelan and Brian Freeberg, plans on building 30 townhome-style units on the 6.5 acre plot of land on the south shore of Lake Bemidji.

The developers bought the land from the city for $300,000. A $10,000 down payment came with the signing of a purchase agreement in March and the rest was paid Thursday. The two sides signed a development agreement Thursday, as well, said city attorney Al Felix.

Whelan said Thursday afternoon they planned on preparing the land for construction Friday, including removing trees to make room for the road and sewer and water systems.  

“We’ve got to get the infrastructure moving along first,” Whelan said. “It’ll all be a work in progress … but the building structures themselves won’t start until the first week of June.”

Whelan said the units won’t be built all at once. He said they’ll construct a two-unit building and two four-unit buildings “for sure this year.” He added that they’ve received a lot of interest from potential residents.

“We’ve actually had to hold people off just because it’s premature for us to try and sell when we didn’t even own the land,” Whelan said. The townhomes will be called the “South Shore Villas.”

The deal B&B Enterprises reached with the city included the option to buy another five acres of land south of the land purchased Thursday. They could buy that land for no less than $100,000.

The land deal comes after their plans were approved by the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board on Wednesday night.

Included in that approval was a conditional use permit to amend the city’s planned unit development. That included the townhomes’ use of vinyl siding, which the PUD prohibits, and a variance for a 1,000 feet long cul-de-sac, twice as large as the maximum allowed under the PUD.

The resolution passed Wednesday also approved a conditional use permit to remove more than the 60 percent of trees on the site, the maximum allowed under the PUD, as new trees will be planted by the developers, said JPB senior planner Andrew Mack.

Mack called the development a “positive step” for the community.

“It’s exciting from the viewpoint of our planning office to see development occurring with that project,” Mack said.  

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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