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Young professionals are “not a group that is having difficulty finding homes right now,” he added. “There is an excess of housing in this state in the $180,000 to $250,000 range.
“They’re competing in a saturated market.”
Harmony is eyeing Stewartville, a city of 5,900 just south of Rochester, which in 2013 began offering $5,000 to build a house or $7,500 to put up a commercial, industrial or multifamily residential building. More than a dozen people have taken advantage of the program, said William Schimmel Jr., the city administrator.
Stewartville is in the midst of quantifying its results, Schimmel said, including adding up new property tax revenue.
“It’s worked — very much so,” he said. “I know that some think, ‘Oh, those folks were going to build anyway.’ But we’ve seen new investment.”
Harmony’s population has stayed stable and its leaders aren’t hoping to grow to Stewartville’s size. But they wouldn’t mind a little of Stewartville’s youth. There, the median age is 34.
Rebate has some thinking
Harmony Enterprises employees gathered at noon on a recent Thursday to eat smoked pork chops and celebrate 400 days with no lost time.
These are people that Harmony wants to move in.
Chris Applen, 30, joined the engineering staff here more than three years ago and rented a place in town. He recently met with a real estate agent but because of student loan debt doesn’t feel quite ready to buy. The rebate’s got him thinking, though: “It’s not too often you come across an opportunity where a city is willing to pay you,” he said.
Applen grew up visiting relatives in Harmony, and his grandmother still lives here. But every other weekend, he treks to Rochester, about 50 miles away.
“Thirty-something isn’t exactly the demographic for this town,” Applen said. “I don’t mind it.”
He paused, then laughed. “It makes it tough to get married, but oh, well.”
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168