The City Council last week approved selling a 3-acre parcel back to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) for $100,000 after an archaeological survey indicated that the land is likely an ancient Indian burial site.

The property, on First Avenue near Marschall Road, has been identified as part of the historic Mdewakanton Dakota Tinta Otunwe (Village on the Prairie). Tribal leadership plans to reseed native grasses along the grounds and allow the site to return to its natural prairie.

“Our goal is to not disturb the earth because the site likely has archaeological resources,” Michael Kerski, director of planning and development, told the council. The Shakopee tribe raised concerns when a city-sponsored survey found evidence that the land is likely part of a larger burial area.

The city will retain utility easement rights on the property, but expects SMSC to ask for the abandonment of other easements.

Before the discovery, the city had previously approved a sale to Topaz Investments — a facility for disabled residents — and Doggie Doo’s Spa & Retreat for development. The businesses each had received conditional-use permits for the property, but officials said the owners were no longer interested in it after learning that construction could disturb historic land.

The businesses have since filed for new permits for city-owned property at Hwy. 69 and Hwy. 169, where staff will bring forward a preliminary plat once the new road alignment has been completed.

Funds from the sale will be placed into the city’s property acquisition fund.

Shakopee first acquired the parcel for about $22,000 through a tax-sale agreement in 2012.

Liz Sawyer


Residents moving into $11.7 million Artspace Lofts downtown

Move-in day has arrived for the first residents of Artspace Lofts in downtown Hastings, an $11.7 million project developed by the Minneapolis nonprofit Artspace. The project includes 37 affordable living and work spaces for artists on the corner of E. 2nd and Tyler streets.

Residents began moving to the third floor Aug. 1 and to the second floor Aug. 7. The first floor will be completed soon, according to Erika Dani, asset manager for Artspace. The project still has some two-bedroom units available.

The Hastings City Council approved the lofts’ construction in April 2016 after a study showed demand for artist housing in the river city. Artspace gives priority to artists, though it’s not exclusive.

The lofts include studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments priced at 30 to 60 percent of the area’s median income. The building features views of the Mississippi River, downtown Hastings or the Hwy. 61 bridge.

Artspace operates several buildings in Minneapolis and St. Paul, including the Cowles Center in Minneapolis and the Tilsner Artists Cooperative in St. Paul. The organization also has property in Duluth, Fergus Falls, Brainerd, New York, Los Angeles, Iowa and North Dakota.

Erin Adler


Housing permits highest in metro for July, year-to-date

Lakeville’s housing boom continued through July, when the city issued more residential permits than any other metro-area city. The city also tops the list for permits issued this year, according to an article in the city newsletter citing the Builders Association of the Twin Cities.

Lakeville has issued $163.7 million in building permits through July of this year. That compares to $119.2 million for the same period in 2016.

This year, the city has issued permits for 269 single family homes and 51 townhouse units. Last year, it issued 217 single-family home permits and 41 townhouse units permits in the same period.

Erin Adler


Council meetings move dates

To eliminate conflicts with the school board, Savage City Council has elected to move its meetings to the first and third Mondays of each month.

The change began Aug. 7, at 7 p.m., following a 5 p.m. work session at City Hall. Meetings were previously held the second and fourth Monday of each month. Planning Commission meetings will also flip-flop, beginning Aug. 14 at 6 p.m. They will now be held the second and fourth Mondays — opposite the City Council’s meetings.

Liz Sawyer

Dakota County

Delays continue at county’s license centers

Problems continue to plague Minnesota’s new software for issuing license plates, tabs and title transfers across the state, including at Dakota County’s three license centers. The Burnsville, Lakeville and Robert Trail centers are open but customers may see longer wait times, according to Dakota County’s website.

Local law enforcement will likely loosen the reins on tab expiration dates, the website said.

The state rolled out the new system, called the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS), the week of July 26. This is the project’s first phase and covers the motor vehicle portion of the service.

Two deputy registrar offices, which are locally owned and provide motor vehicle services to the public, were closed temporarily that week because they couldn’t serve customers. Other offices cut back hours to handle the switch, while consumers at other centers have reported long waits for tabs, titles or plates.

The driver’s license part of the new system will begin next year.

Erin Adler