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A developer has an agreement in place to buy the Racetrack property in La Crescent and plans to use the site to build a large residential subdivision, according to city officials.

The property is located just off County Highway 6 behind Wieser Memorial Park in Crescent Valley and has space for over 100 homes, a study of the site found. It was annexed by the city in 2016 and earmarked as a potential site for residential development.

City administrator Bill Waller said more details on the agreement will be presented at the city council meeting on Monday, Feb. 12, including the identity of the developer.

Waller said the developer has a contract to buy the property that’s “contingent on a few things happening.” One of those items is that the developer must get a development agreement approved by the city council within 30 days, meaning the council will likely vote on a plan at its Feb. 26 meeting.

The site is currently owned by a family trust developed by William and Delores Cornforth and there was initially discussion of the city buying the 89-acre property. But in December 2016, the city council voted 3-2 against a proposal to enter an agreement to buy the site for $779,000.

Waller declined to say how much the developer interested in the property has agreed to buy it for, although he said the details of the purchase agreement would be available at Monday’s city council meeting.

The city council did agree last year to commission a study of the Racetrack property to determine its feasibility as a site for a residential development.

The study found there was sufficient demand for a significant residential development in La Crescent and estimated the Racetrack property could be used to build up to 132 housing units of different sizes.

Waller said the developer currently interested in the property was looking at a smaller number of units for the site.

The feasibility study, conducted by Maxfield Research and Consulting of Minneapolis, looked at how 64 acres suitable for construction at the Racetrack property could be developed. It was presented to the city council at the Jan. 29 special council meeting and cost the city $12,000.

In their view, the consultants found the site would be suitable for a development of “76 to 90 single family detached housing unite and 38 to 42 association-maintained housing units.”

Whatever the final configuration, if the development goes ahead it would provide a significant expansion of La Crescent’s tax base. The study noted that new home starts have been sluggish in La Crescent for years, primarily due to the lack of suitable development land, which is what made the Racetrack property desirable to the city.

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