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Development plans advance through Superior committees

The city's Plan Commission approved creating a new tax increment district and dividing parcels, and its Redevelopment Authority declared blight to develop area around North 34th Street and Henry

The rendering created by LHB shows the new funeral home and grounds in the area of North 34th Street and Henry Cohen Drive.
The rendering created by LHB shows the new funeral home and grounds in the area of North 34th Street and Henry Cohen Drive. Plans by the owners of Downs Funeral Home include parking for about 120 vehicles and an area where military honors can be bestowed adjacent to the building. Construction is expected to begin in April 2023.
Contributed / Jeff Cushman
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SUPERIOR — Several actions taken by city committees last week will help advance development of the area around North 34th Street and Henry Cohen Drive.

The Superior Plan Commission on Wednesday, Nov. 16, approved the project plan and established the boundaries to create a new tax increment district in the area following a public hearing. The commission also approved a certified survey map presented by William Stack that will divide parcels northwest of Ravin Crossbows for commercial development.

Then the Superior Redevelopment Authority approved a blight declaration for the area on Thursday, Nov. 17, that will allow the authority to act on the city’s behalf for development of the area.

Housing, commercial and manufacturing development are planned in the area, but the only project moving forward currently is a plan by the owners of Lake Superior Funeral Home, operating as Downs Funeral Home, to build a new 11,400-square-foot funeral home with a chapel and reception hall in the area at an estimated cost of $4.2 million.

Construction is expected to get underway in April 2023.

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“Tax increment financing is a very common tool that the city can use to promote development or redevelopment in particular areas within the city,” said Sean Lentz of Ehler’s Public Finance Advisors.

Under the plan approved by the commission, officials anticipate expenses of about $2.96 million to incentivize and make infrastructure improvements for development that will result in about $11.85 million in additional value.

“We are going to start putting more money into infrastructure,” said Jason Serck, economic development, port and planning director. One of the goals in creating the tax increment district is improving the connectivity in an area that does not have a lot of sidewalks. Bus stop improvements are also a potential, he said.

Over the last two years, the city has closed two tax increment districts, adding about $65.7 million in new value to a base of less than $10.1 million. Next year, the city anticipates closing two more, adding about $30.2 million in new value to the tax rolls over the base of less than $10 million, according to reports by Ehler’s.

The Superior City Council will consider the certified survey map and blight declaration when it meets Dec. 4. The tax increment district proposal is slated to go before the council at its Dec. 20 meeting, followed by final approval by the joint review board, made up of all taxing jurisdictions.

This story was updated at 11 a.m. Nov. 22 with a rendering of the new funeral home. It as originally posted at 1:25 p.m. Nov. 21.

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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