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Zumbro House secures park dedication credit

Zumbro House will include 200 units and some commercial space. This view is facing Ford Road. Courtesy of the city of Newport

NEWPORT — The City Council has agreed to a compromise regarding Zumbro House and its related park fees, moving the apartments to start construction this fall.

Zumbro House will start building the four-story, 200-unit supported housing apartment building at 2300 Hastings Ave., consisting of mostly one- and a few two-bedroom units.

The project will include some commercial spaces, but the users have not yet been determined. Though they will be open to anyone, developer Christopher Onken said they are looking for retailers that meet the needs of the Zumbro House residents, who will have mental disabilities or mental illnesses.

Council members debated what to do about park dedication fees at the Sept. 20 meeting, suggesting crediting construction of amenities as park dedication and TIF (tax increment financing).

Onken developed the project to have about $260,000 worth of park-like amenities, including walking trails, a sand volleyball court, a basketball court and an open park play area as part of the Zumbro House development. There would also be a courtyard park area in the middle of the building that would be only for residents.

Onken said that transportation is a barrier for Zumbro House residents, and if park amenities are not on site, they would likely not be able to access them at all.

For having 200 units, the city would charge $300,000 in park dedication fees, leaving about a $40,000 difference between what's currently offered.

The City Council decided to split the difference and count $280,000 for credit and leave him to pay $20,000 in dedication fees.

The council voted 4-1, with Mayor Dan Lund opposing.

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