A $2.4 million boost in federal funding has Mitchell Development Corporation's housing project gaining steam
The infrastructure funding for the project breathed some life into the Ridge View on Foster development that’s gone quiet since the pandemic hit the area in 2020
MITCHELL — A key piece of the puzzle to get Mitchell Area Development Corporation’s proposed housing development moving forward has come together.
After being shelved for three years, the MADC’s Ridge View on Foster housing development that’s planned to be built across from Avera Queen of Peace hospital received a financial boost this year from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The roughly $2.4 million in federal funding for the project breathed some life into the development that’s gone quiet since the pandemic hit the area in 2020.
“We are a ways out yet from this getting to the next stage, but this was a huge part of getting this development closer to getting started,” said Geri Beck, CEO of the MADC and Chamber of Commerce. “The funding was made possible through an appropriations bill in the U.S. Senate that earmarked the funds.”
The Ridge View on Foster development is planned to bring around 90 homes to a 21-acre patch of land tucked along the corner of Foster Street and East Eighth Avenue. The project came together in 2020 after Avera Queen of Peace hospital donated the land to the Mitchell organization with the goal of providing workforce housing options.
Although the housing development was approved by the Mitchell City Council in 2020, building has yet to begin on the land due to uncertainties over the infrastructure funding.
The latest multimillion-dollar boost in federal funding will be used to pay for the infrastructure portion of the development, which primarily entails roads, sewer systems and curb and gutters.
Funding wasn’t the only challenge that the Ridge View on Foster project came up against when it was rolled out under the leadership of Mark Vaux, former CEO of the MADC. Over 50 nearby residents who submitted letters to weigh in on the housing development plan recommended against the project, citing concerns of traffic swells, potential drainage issues and the type of homes initially proposed to be built impacting their property values.
When Vaux was at the helm, the MADC was seeking to create a Tax Increment Financing district (TIF) on the land to fund the infrastructure. Vaux halted moving forward with a TIF in April 2020, citing concerns of construction crews being able to build out the infrastructure in a timely manner amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the TIF for the development was tabled by the city council in 2020, leadership at the MADC has changed hands from Vaux to Beck, along with the former project leader, Clinton Powell, who parted ways with the development shortly after Vaux resigned from the MADC in August 2020.
Beck said new project leaders have come to the conclusion that a TIF wouldn’t have been enough to fund the infrastructure. That led previous MADC and project officials to seek other funding sources with the HUD federal agency.
Despite the leadership shakeups, the mission behind the project remains the same: bring Mitchell more workforce housing options.
“We have been making a lot of great progress on addressing Mitchell’s housing needs,” Beck said, pointing to the recent creation of Mitchell Area Housing Incorporated, a nonprofit that MADC helped bring to life that built and sold a few affordable homes in Mitchell.
While the HUD funding has been secured for the project, Beck said there are a few more steps that have to be taken for the development to break ground.
Beck said the next steps will include having an environmental review of the land completed by the South Dakota Housing Authority and submitting an in depth plan of the project to the state agency.
Correction note: In the article, it was stated that acting MADC CEO Geri Beck was prompted to seek HUD funding for the project. However, it was former project leaders and MADC officials who decided to seek HUD funding. The Mitchell Republic regrets this error and has corrected it.