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Benson one of four Minn. cities to get DEED grants

BENSON -- The city of Benson is one of four Minnesota cities that will share $1.29 million in state grant money to clean-up blighted sites for redevelopment that will create a total of 1,000 new jobs.

The city will get $41,235 from the Department of Employment and Economic Development's Redevelopment Grant Program.

The money will help cover costs for demolition of a former creamery and infrastructure costs at the one-acre site. There are plans to redevelop the land into 7,200 square feet of mixed-use residential and commercial space that is expected to create one job and increase the tax base by $5,800, according to a press release.

The city will contribute matching funds.

Benson is the only rural community on the list to benefit from DEED's redevelopment grant program.

The other cities are Eagan, Richfield and St. Paul.

The program helps cities, counties and other units of government pay for up to 50 percent of the cost of redeveloping blighted industrial, residential or commercial properties.

The grants can be used to pay for land acquisition, demolition, infrastructure and other project-related improvements. Recipients must provide matching funds.

"These projects will create jobs and put blighted properties back on the tax rolls," said DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips.

"The Redevelopment Grant Program is part of a strategy that is helping to keep Minnesota's economy on a healthy growth track."

The city of Eagan will get $750,000 for an elevator tower on a public parking garage for development of a 400,000-square-foot shopping mall that's expected to create 880 jobs.

Richfield will get $100,000 for infrastructure costs at the former Lyndale Garden Center that will be redeveloped into 42,500 square feet of mixed commercial space and 120 units of rental housing, which is expected to create 69 jobs.

St. Paul was awarded $403,000 for infrastructure costs at the former Hamm's Brewing site. The 8.8-acre site will house Urban Organics, Flat Earth Brewing and a commercial kitchen that is expected to create 48 jobs and retain five jobs.

Since its inception in 1998, the Redevelopment Grant Program has awarded more than $58.8 million, funded 139 projects statewide and reclaimed 1,203 acres of blighted property, according to DEED.

The program has created 9,942 jobs, retained 9,768 existing jobs and generated $26.5 million in new tax revenue. The program has attracted over $1.7 billion in private investment and led to the creation of 2,583 units of market-rate housing and 1,667 units of affordable housing.