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Downtown sites, Garden Terrace expansion discussed as developmental opportunities

Development group Rebound Partners identified this building at 225-227 North Minnesota Street as a potential location for a boutique hotel. The city is currently running a hotel study to see how much of a need there is in New Ulm.

NEW ULM – The New Ulm EDA heard out development firm Rebound Partners on several different projects the firm envisioned for New Ulm during its work session Tuesday.

Rebound Partners (RP) has worked with over 15 communities across Minnesota to develop and help them reach their goals. RP President Jay Scott said they have experience in several different areas.

“We do different types of development and acquisition activity,” he said, “Redevelopment, remodel activities. We do multifamily housing, apartments, food, and beverage. We have our own restaurant division where we operate different brands of restaurants in various communities. We do retail development, downtown renovations, and historic renovation work.”

Scott said the goal of RP was not to just develop and acquire properties, but to do it in a way that best improves New Ulm.

“We’re trying to have an impact with our investment and real estate activities centered around meeting the needs of the community itself. There’s a big need for housing in this community, which is often the case in smaller communities. We’re here to offer some potential solutions to partner with you on how we can establish some different housing products within the community.”

During an EDA work session Tuesday, Rebound Partners said the Lamplighter was one of their potential development targets. They would look to bring a restaurant into the site.

Scott said acquiring Garden Terrace apartments and adding more housing there was something they were considering. He said it wouldn’t be a massive 100-200 unit project, but something more minor befitting the current space.

“We can come in and find sites that fit well within the guide plan and incorporate housing on a smaller scale basis where the opportunity exists,” Scott said.

RP Development Manager Mark Huonder said there were some downtown projects they had in mind as well. He said the Lamplighter building, which suffered fire and smoke damage in Sep. 2022, was one of those projects. Currently, the vision would be to bring a restaurant in and convert the second-floor space into four two-bedroom units.

Board member Andrea Boettger asked whether this restaurant would be something local or franchised. Huonder said it will depend on what’s best for the community.

“If it makes sense for a national brand, then maybe we’ll bring them in,” he said. “I think this space, the traffic, and the context of the neighborhood [means it’s] probably going to be local or regional.”

Board member Tom Berg said there are already three restaurants within a half block, and asked how parking would work. Huonder said there is a parking lot behind the building and they are still working out details with the city.

Across the street, Huonder said RP has been engaged in discussions with the building owner at 225-227 North Minnesota Street since January. He said there were a couple potential development options with this building.

“On the less intrusive end [we could] bring that space back as retail or restaurants and residential rental units on the upper two floors,” Huonder said. “We’re looking at maybe turning these into a boutique hotel. We’re happy to hear that study is underway and excited to see the market for that type of product here.”

The fund-raising for these projects will be handled by RP’s community real estate fund branch, REVocity. The branch’s president, Lori Bonin, said they work with local investors to benefit their communities and finances.

“The idea of this model is impact investing,” she said. “We identify a group of investors and talk about how it works. Providing an opportunity where somebody can invest in their backyard; get community and financial returns at the same time. That’s how we raise equity for these projects we’re looking at in New Ulm.”

Scott said the next step will be to submit specific proposals. For Garden Terrace, he said they could be ready to present as early as next month.

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