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Future of disputed Mitchell lot uncertain after council postpones $30K offer that's well below listing price

"If nobody does end up getting closer to our number, that seems like a viable option to work with Mitchell Area Housing Incorporated and get a single-family residential home built in that spot,” Mitchell City Council member Jeff Smith said of the future options of the lot

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Shown here is the lot on the corner of 15th Avenue and Minnesota Street where a Mitchell resident recently put a $30,000 offer in to buy the lot. The Mitchell City Council recently opted to postpone the offer to allow the city to negotiate a counter offer.
Sam Fosness / Republic
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MITCHELL — After sitting on the market for a little over a month, a corner lot on the north side of Mitchell that’s been the source of controversy recently attracted its first offer.

A Mitchell resident’s $30,000 offer for the bare lot that sits on the corner of 15th Avenue and Minnesota Street came in $27,000 below the listing price. On Monday night, the Mitchell City Council opted to postpone approving the $30,000 offer and allow the city to respond with a counter offer that’s closer to the $57,000 listing price.

“At this point in time, we’re going to have the mayor (Bob Everson) go back and negotiate a counter to see what happens. Hopefully, we’ll get a little closer to the $57,000,” council member Jeff Smith said during Monday’s city council meeting.

Prior to the lot being listed on the market, the Mitchell Area Development Corporation and a newly created local organization called Mitchell Area Housing Incorporated requested the city transfer the lot for the new group to spearhead building a workforce house on the land that’s a little under a half acre.

The organization’s initial plan was met with pushback from nearby residents who claimed the lot was dedicated for a future park or green space. Some nearby residents like Mark Wilson indicated interest in purchasing the lot during the early March city council meetings when the council was considering transferring the city-owned lot to the housing organization. Ultimately, the opposition over the initial plans for the lot led city leaders to scrap transferring the lot and list the piece of land for sale.

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Although some nearby property owners previously expressed interest in buying the lot, Mayor Bob Everson said none of them have made an offer thus far. The $30,000 offer made by Cory Marek, a Mitchell resident who doesn’t reside near the lot, is the only offer the lot has seen since it was listed in April.

“Some adjacent property owners said they were interested in it. That’s why we listed it. But we haven’t seen anything from any of them,” Everson said of the nearby residents.

After the council declared the lot as surplus and rezoned it from public lands to a residential zoning district in early April, a team of local residents were appointed to appraise the lot and help determine the $57,000 listing price.

Prior to the Mitchell City Council postponing approval of the $30,000 offer on Monday night, Smith indicated he supported the option of ultimately transferring the lot to the new Mitchell housing group if the city’s counter offer is not agreed upon. Attempts by the Mitchell Republic to reach Marek about the negotiations on the lot were unsuccessful.

“If he (Marek) walks, then we always got the option of sending it over to Geri (Geri Beck, CEO of Mitchell Area Development Corporation). If nobody does end up getting closer to our number, that seems like a viable option to work with Mitchell Area Housing Incorporated and get a single-family residential home built in that spot,” Smith said during Monday’s council meeting.

As of Friday, Everson said he’s yet to hear back from Marek on the city’s counter offer of the lot.

If the Mitchell Area Housing Incorporated organization receives the lot via transfer, Everson said there would be a stipulation that requires a roughly 1,200-square-foot single-family dwelling to be built on the lot. A major concern that some nearby residents had with the initial plan to build a workforce home centered around its effect on property values.

Considering many of the homes in the area surrounding the lot range in size around 1,200 to 1,600 square feet, Everson said the stipulation to require a roughly 1,200-square-foot home would be a move that seeks to blend the home with the existing neighborhood.

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Another scenario that could play out with the lot is the city opting to keep it on the market with the real estate agent, Stratton Havlik, to entertain any future offers.

While it’s unclear what the lot will be used for in the future, some city leaders hope to see a single-family residential home built on the corner lot.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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