Tofte continues to consider senior housing at Birch Grove

After several years of dogged planning it looks like housing for seniors may finally be built in Tofte.

Dick Grabko and Gary Lamppa of Community Connections came before the Tofte town board on February 13, 2014 and informed the supervisors that the Iron Range Resources Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) had awarded the township a grant of $230,000. The money will be used to put in infrastructure for a planned 12-unit senior housing project expected to cost $1.9 million to develop.

Originally the township was hoping to receive $350,000 from the IRRRB but due to a shortfall in the IRRRB’s budget for this grant cycle, it was pared down. Grabko said the township could reapply for the remaining $120,000 in the IRRRB’s next grant cycle.

The township plans on renting housing units at market rates and will finance the rest of the project through general obligation abatement bonds with a 20-year repayment plan. Currently township supervisors have been working with Dynamic Homes on the design of houses. To get a better idea of what might be built in Tofte, township supervisors toured Mill Stream Village in St. Joseph, Minnesota, looking at the layout of those senior living and assisted living houses.

Senior housing options will allow older residents a chance to live in their home town when they are unable to take care of their house, said Supervisor Paul James.

“We are trying to get the cost of the houses down as low as possible and yet maintain quality,” said James.

Senior housing will be on the agenda at the township annual meeting on Tuesday, March 11, 2014.

”We will have a presentation with preliminary designs and we hope costs for the public at our annual meeting,” James said.

A representative from Dynamic Homes should be at the annual meeting to answer questions, said James.

Plans are to build the 12 houses on the east side of the 29 acres owned by the township. The land adjoins the Birch Grove Community Center property.

“We are going to save parcels on the west side in case this goes well and we need to expand it in the future,” said James.