VRC developers get another year to build roadConstruction of a permanent road through the Vermillion River Crossing may be another year off.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Construction of a permanent road through the Vermillion River Crossing may be another year off.
On Monday, the Farmington City Council directed staff to extend a date in the VRC’s development contract by a full year to give the developer time to come up with businesses or funds to help pay for a permanent road — Dushane Parkway — by Dec. 31, 2009.
There are no businesses set to build in the development in the immediate future.
Currently, Dushane Parkway is a gravel road that runs though the commercial development. It is, and will be maintained by the landowners, Bob and Stan Knutsen, until it is paved to make a north-south route.
Construction of Dushane Parkway was to be completed by Dec. 31 of this year, according to the development contract between the city and the Vermillion River Crossings owners. However, given the economy, and the fact the Knutsens have now brought on someone new to handle the marketing of the development, no new businesses have come to the area since the construction of a McDonald’s and a medical clinic. Therefore, Russ McGinty, senior vice president of retail services for Capital Growth Madison Marquette, LLC, has asked for a little leeway on the project.
McGinty took over the marketing of Vermillion River Crossings just three months ago. Between past deals, the poor market and some financial troubles incurred through the project, the funds to build Dushane Parkway simply are not available at this time, he said.
“Maybe things would have been different two years ago,” McGinty said, “but there are a number of retail developments in the same position at this time.”
McGinty originally asked the city council to consider taking money out of escrow to help the VRC developers proceed with the road’s construction. Council members said no.
With that, he asked that the developers could build a temporary road, basically just paving what is now a gravel road. Because the company does not know what types of businesses are going to come in, they cannot determine where curbs and infrastructure would be needed, McGinty said.
Council members rejected that idea, too. Council member Christy Jo Fogarty suggested extending the date for the road’s completion by a year, in hopes that some new businesses could be brought in to help the developers pay for the road on their own.
“The only frustrations I’ve heard with this project is the lack of development, not with this 300 feet not being paved,” she said.
Mayor Kevan Soderberg voiced his frustration with the lack of progress at Vermillion River Crossing, too. The project has been in the works for more than four years, and has had numerous setbacks.
“We’ve had a lot of outside dates,” Soderberg said. "It’s one of those projects that s been manipulated and adjusted and extended.... For me to have a date here that defines the contract to be in default and for you to come and ask the city to take you off the hook for that default, I’m a little irritated by that. I’m willing to change the date on the contract, but for you to come and ask the city to pay for this too ... I mean, I want this more than anything else. You have no idea.”
In his few months on the project, McGinty has been trying to find new businesses to come to Farmington. He has been in contact with a couple of retailers, he said, one of which has expressed much interest.
The Dakota County Community Development Agency has also approached McGinty about housing units on the property.
McGinty acknowledged that a temporary road would probably not influence a company’s decision to locate in Farmington. Until a permanent road can be built, the Knutsens will continue to maintain the road in its current condition.