Sartell takes steps toward redevelopment of former paper mill site
The city of Sartell recently purchased nearly 60 acres on the banks of the Mississippi River, which used to be the home of the Verso paper mill.
Back in May of 2012, an explosion and fire destroyed the paper mill.
The community has grown around the mill, as there has been one running in town since the early 1900s.
“This is a very recognizable piece of our history, the center of our community. What are we going to do to redevelop it?” asked Mayor Ryan Fitzthum. “There’s not another 57 acres in the region, maybe the state, that can offer a blank canvas to redevelop on the heart of the Mississippi.”
The city recently purchased the land of the old mill with hopes of changing the landscape by creating a future Mill Site Development Project.
The conversation recently began in the community about a future redevelopment project that could include commercial, residential and public recreation space.
“To put in a marina would mark a lot of people happy to access the river,” Sartell resident Lou Czarnowski said. “Sartell is very progressive, they are continuingly looking for something for the people, as to what will make people happy.”
“Our rush hour consists of about 12 to 13 cars, that come in,” said resident Steve Lojovich, who lives down the block from the Mill Site Development Project and enjoys the quiet of the neighborhood.
Lojovich hopes there’s more recreation space rather than a project with a mix of residential and business use.
“I have a hard time picturing that. I suppose it could be done, I have a hard time seeing that big mix now,” Lojovich said.
Fitzthum sees the project as an economic driver that could make Sartell a destination spot. One of the next steps comes in the fall, when the city learns the results of an environmental study that could help determine how much of the land can be developed.
More community engagement meetings are to come as well, as the city tries to figure out how to use the land, according to Fitzthum.
The city has more information on the project here.