City administrator highlights development trends in chamber talk
by Joni Astrup
Otsego continues to see commercial, industrial and housing development, another water tower is under construction and a new school will open in the city this fall.
Those were a few of the high points City Administrator Adam Flaherty hit during a regional economic development update on Tuesday, April 26, at The Links at Northfork in Ramsey. The event was spearheaded by the Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce and featured city and county officials from the area.
Asked by moderator Kevin Bergstrom what is the biggest, most exciting thing happening now in the city, Flaherty listed several things.
One is Prairie View Middle School, which is under construction in Otsego. The school, for students in grades 5-8, will open this fall.
Otsego is seeing continued commercial-industrial development, Flaherty said. Dunkin’ Donuts and Heartland Dental are going into a building that is under construction near Coborn’s.
RL Carriers, a freight shipping and logistics company, is building a facility in eastern Otsego that will bring 140 new employees to the city. Room and Board is expanding its warehouse and distribution facility along Highway 101 by about 200,000 square feet and Blu Dot, also located along Highway 101, is constructing another building across from its current location. The new building will be about 700,000 square feet in size.
Dakota Supply Group is also building a facility on Otsego’s west side.
“The benefits to the community are improved service offerings for a growing resident base, employees and tax base and, also, community identity,” Flaherty said.
Residential construction remains strong, with Otsego averaging around 400 new single family homes being built per year in recent years. Additionally, 170 new apartment units became available earlier this year and another 67 units will be under construction this summer.
Flaherty said there are currently 19 active housing developments in Otsego. New home prices are commonly in the $400,000 to $600,000 range.
Regarding public infrastructure projects, with the Highway 169 project getting underway in Elk River, Flaherty joked, “We’re going to leave the road disruptions to our neighbors.”
Infrastructure projects in the Otsego area include:
• Work is underway to complete the I-94 project at the city’s southern borders, in the St. Michael-Albertville area.
• Otsego is currently out to bid on a $38 million wastewater expansion project.
• A new water tower is under construction in Otsego.
• Otsego has two distinct water systems, one in the east and one in the west, and is working on the design phase to connect those systems. That will help with capacity, supply and overall redundancy of the system, he said.
• Otsego is adding a new well, No. 10, and planning for wells 11 through 15.
Parks are on the city’s radar, too.
“Our council is very big on investing in our parks,” Flaherty said. “Our residents see that as a key feature of our community.”
He said the city is looking at improving access to the Mississippi River behind Guardian Angels’ Riverview Landing in Otsego, in part by adding river access for canoes.
Flaherty, who has worked for the city since 2015, said Otsego’s population in the latest census came in at just under 20,000 people. The city has a budget of $39 million.
“We’ve only been a city for 32 years, which is infant stage compared to some of our neighbors here,” Flaherty said.
Prior to becoming a city, Otsego was a township.