Brainerd: City offers economic incentives for River to Rail project

Brainerd City Council President Gabe Johnson (center) calls for action during the council's regular meeting Monday, July 1, at city hall.

Incentives are now in play for builders to develop land within Brainerd’s River to Rail corridor.

The River to Rail initiative is focused on revitalizing the city’s core blocks, especially those between the Mississippi River and the Northern Pacific Center, and from Washington Street to Oak Street.

Those looking to invest in that area themselves now have more incentive to do so, as the Brainerd City Council passed a measure Monday, July 1, to waive the city’s sewer and water availability charges for any building project within the River to Rail corridor. In addition, city building permit and inspection fees will be waived on projects with less than $150,000 in construction costs. For projects over the cost, the council is willing to negotiate permit fees on a case by case basis.

Though these incentives are specifically limited to the River to Rail program area right now, Finance Director Connie Hillman said they could be a gateway to similar future stimulus elsewhere in Brainerd.

“I think this is not saying that we’re not promoting development anywhere else in the city, but this is kind of like a trial run to see how it works,” Hillman said during Monday’s personnel and finance committee meeting. “If someone has a project in another part of the area, we may offer the same thing.”


In other business Monday, the council:

Approved a memorandum of understanding with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, which represents Brainerd Public Utilities, to establish a wage scale for a new information technology data analyst position at BPU. A new hire would start at $25.08 per hour and would crease by 3% in 2020.

Approved an event/street closure application for a block party from 4 p.m. to midnight Aug. 31 at 11303 Arlington Ave. Arlington Avenue and a portion of Virginia Street will be closed.

Approved a lawful gambling application from the Brainerd Fire Department Relief Association for an event planned Dec. 2, at the fire department.

Approved on-sale/Sunday microdistillery cocktail room and off-sale distilled spirits license applications for Brainerd Distilling Company on Washington Street.

Approved a petition from a South Sixth Street property owner to have the city finance a replacement of the sewer service serving the property and have it assessed over 10 years on the property tax roll. The estimated cost is $3,200, with an annual interest rate of 3.3%.

Directed staff to initiate the acquisition process for an alley on Rosewood Street that is owned by Crow Wing County. The city maintains the alley, as it serves five surrounding properties. The county has indicated it would sell to any potential buyer, meaning a private buyer could close off access to the homeowners who use it now. As such, city staff believes acquiring the alley is in the city’s best interest.

Approved a request from the Brainerd Police Department to use about $8,500 worth of drug forfeiture funds to upgrade the department’s .40-caliber pistols to 9 mm pistols. When looking to buy two new pistols for recent hires, the department learned Glock no longer makes the model officers use.


Approved a conditional use permit for Scott and Denise Blood to operate a day care at 1002 Laurel St., with the condition that an agreement for off-street staff parking be made with the adjacent property owners. The planning commission previously had a public hearing and approved the measure.

Approved a rezoning request from Julie Dillon to rezone her property at 215 N. Third St. from residential office to medium density residential to better serve the property as a main residence and business office.

Learned the city earned a Minnesota GreenStep City Level 2 award for continuing participation in the GreenStep Cities program, which recognizes cities for reaching certain sustainability and quality of life goals. The program has five levels of recognition. As a Level 2 city, Brainerd has built community interest in the program, adopted a GreenStep City resolution and implemented between four and eight best practices.

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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