LIFT tours highlight community progress, growth
Luverne Initiatives for Tomorrow hosted its annual meeting Friday in the form of several tours highlighting community development.
In a round-robin approach, groups of roughly 20 people at a time visited four separate sites for 20- to 25-minute tours between 4 and 6 p.m.
By the end of the evening each site had hosted four tour groups, updating attendees on progress.
The new PrairiE Loft Apartments on South Highway 75 were a highlight on the tour where Greensmith Builders’ Aaron Smith and Luverne’s Rich Dreckman took visitors through the newly completed apartments — some of them completed.
There are two, three-story, 27-unit apartment buildings along Hatting Street toward the east end of what used to be the Sharkee’s and Mert’s Repair lots.
Dreckman said the south building has 18 of its 27 units rented out and will be full within a week or so. He’s taking reservations for the north building.
Rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,095 and two-bedroom units rent for $1,295 to $1,495 with utilities included. “We’ve had people move in before even seeing the place,” Dreckman said. “We’ve had good response.”
Because of demand, another three-story, 27-unit apartment building is being planned east of the north building along the north side of the retaining pond. A mixed use commercial-residential complex is planned for the space fronting Highway 75.
Primarily renters are young professionals with good-paying jobs, mostly single people and couples without children who work locally and had been commuting from Sioux Falls or Brandon.
Dreckman also talked about what makes the PrairiE Loft apartments unique. For example, each unit is elevator accessible and has its own stackable GE washer and condensing dryer and full set of appliances with granite countertops and undermount sinks.
The buildings have direct access to the Luverne Loop that connects with the Ashby Memorial Trail and the Blue Mounds Trail.
The apartments are built to meet “EnergyStar, Indoor AirPlus, Zero Energy Ready Home requirements and those of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, making them the most energy-efficient buildings in the state.”
There will be EV car chargers in the parking lot and solar panels on the roof.
All interior finishes are low-emitting (no chemical smell) and an ERV fresh air machine is included in each unit to bring in fresh, filtered outdoor air.
All units have radiant heated floors and dedicated heat pump heating and cooling systems, and the entire complex was built out of structural insulated panels made in Cottonwood.
“With 14 inches of insulation, you won’t hear your neighbors,” Dreckman said. “The units are quiet.”
Each building is fire sprinklered and protected by a security system, and an Amazon package center accepts deliveries for residents.
Another popular tour Friday night was the former TCI building (originally Tri-State Insurance) where the Luverne community child care center will be established.
Luverne Economic Development Authority director Holly Sammons led tours using colored tape to show hallways, bathrooms, classrooms, large play areas and other rooms inside the 30,000-square-foot office building
The day care center, when occupied at near capacity, will accommodate 186 children.
Of those it will be licensed for 24 infants (6 weeks to 16 months), 42 toddlers (16 to 33 months), 60 preschoolers (33 months to kindergarten) and 60 school-age children (kindergarten through 12 years old).
The center will have three infant rooms, three toddler rooms, three preschool rooms and two school-age rooms, all handicap-accessible and all but the infant rooms will have size-appropriate bathrooms.
Two small rooms will accommodate nursing mothers to come in and feed babies in privacy, and there will be a kitchenette and refrigerator to store breast milk.
The building already has an enclosed vestibule, offices, a kitchen area, a conference room, bathrooms, garage, loading dock and more.
Sammons talked about the nearly $6 million project and the fact that half of it may need to be funded locally. “It will take a lot of time and a lot of money,” she said. “But you have to see the vision.”
She mentioned Lineage Logistics 80 new jobs and Premium Minnesota Pork’s 90 new smokehouse jobs in addition to existing developments, and the fact that progressive cities respond to growth with growth.
“When good things are happening and growing, that’s opportunity to keep improving the community,” Sammons said.
“These 25-, 30-, 40-million-dollar projects add tax base to our city and they’re paying property taxes each year. That is income that we can capture to facilitate further growth.”
She said it’s important to capitalize on opportunities to create more opportunities.
“If you have all these good things happening, if you sit there with closed fists, and you don’t solve housing and day care you’re going to stifle that growth.”
City Administrator John Call and Electric Utility Supervisor Brian Remme led tours in the city power plant on East Main Street where an $11 million remodel and repowering was recently completed.
Earlier this year, a crane installed two 50,000-pound generators, each with 3-megawatt capacity, to join the city’s existing 1960s 3-megawatt generator in the power plant.
The combined 9-megawatt continuous capacity of the three generators ensures Luverne’s backup generation can carry a major part of the city’s total electrical load in the event of an outage.
The improvements will also allow the city to provide more backup power for Missouri River Energy Services, which contracts with Luverne for that energy.
MRES currently pays the city $75,000 per year to keep its generators in working condition for backup power in peak usage times. In a new capacity agreement, MRES will pay Luverne $6.7 million over 30 years, which will help pay for roughly half the $11.8 million total cost of the project.
In addition to the new generators, the project included modernizing the east substation and associated switchgear, a new control building, and improvements to the power plant to house the generation equipment.
In the Trailhead Building at Blue Mound Avenue and Main Street, Dan Paquin talked about the construction of Premium Minnesota Pork’s $70 million smokehouse in 2023.
The new facility, approximately 90,000 square feet, will be built between the current pork harvest plant and the Lineage Logistics freezer warehouse
When the new business comes online, it will hire 90 employees who will process
35 to 40 million pounds of pork per year.
Products include bacon, smoked hams, case-ready products and ground pork.
The tour groups ended up at Take 16 to meet and greet some of Luverne’s newest business owners, such as Luverne Lawn Care, Benson Tech Solutions, First Comes Love, Graphenteen Real Estate Group, B’s Bakehouse, Prairie Wind Pet Cremation and others.
LIFT is a 501C3 corporation dedicated to “strengthening Luverne and Rock County.”
Current board members include president Pat Baustian, vice president Gary Papik, secretary Holly Sammons, treasurer Greg Burger, Cory Bloemendaal, Tim Connell, Judy Fenske, Craig Oftedahl, Knute Oldre, Mark Opitz, Janine Papik and Tony Schmoacker.
Ex-officio board members are Marilyn Bloemendaal, John Call, Warren Herreid II, Betty Mann, Scott Marquardt, Kyle Oldre and Jane Wildung Lanphere.