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Affordable Housing Option Coming to Cloquet with New Apartments

Updated: October 09, 2018 07:39 PM

Affordable housing is making its way to Cloquet with a new apartment building. The groundbreaking ceremony for the project took place on Tuesday.

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A housing study in 2014 indicated a need for 80 new affordable housing units in the Cloquet area. The Cloquet Housing & Redevelopment Authority(HRA) took on the initiative to provide affordable housing.

The $6.8 million project will provide 35 new units with one, two, and three bedroom options. The apartment building will be named White Pine Apartments.

The apartment building will be located on 930 14th Street. It’s centered between Washington Elementary and Cloquet High School.

"Filling the affordable housing gap is a challenge. It always has been and it always will be and we've struggled for years to get to this point today,” David Bjerkness, a city councilor for Cloquet, said.

Amenities include in-unit washer and dryer, elevator, fitness center, meeting room, playground, and community rooms.

It will be the first apartment building in Cloquet with underground parking.

"We decided that we would seek out the tools and the resources necessary to make an application to the state, to Minnesota Housing, for low income housing tax credits to be able to develop housing like this,” Debra Shaff, an executive director for Cloquet Housing and Redevelopment Authority, said.

"I don't think a lot of people realize the need for this housing in this area. This is not only going to benefit Cloquet, but the community,” Stephanie Collier, the vice chairman for Cloquet Housing and Redevelopment Authority, said.

Seven of the units will be designed for supportive housing, which will provide permanent housing with services to the homeless. It will have project-based rental assistance as well.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, local union workers were protesting the HRA’s decision to hire out of state contractors.

"For more than a year we've tried to meet with the HRA staff and try and negotiate a contract where our people can be used, our contractors locally,” Craig Olson, the president for Duluth Building and Construction Trades Council, said.

The HRA responded by saying they wanted to hire local contractors but couldn’t agree on the bid.

"The cost of hiring and making it all-union, increased our cost by 30 percent. That was much more significant than what we had originally planned,” Shaff said.

The project will be complete by next fall.

The property will be managed by Metro Plains. The developer is Commonwealth Development Corporation. 

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