White Fox Landing Auction Sells Two Lots

Non-profit developer i2i sold two White Fox Landing lots for $38,000 each at their April 5 auction. A third lot will be sold at market rate to local contractor Todd Studer for the purpose of constructing a spec home.

“We’ve begun the neighborhood,” Bud Young, i2i member and auctioneer, enthusiastically told the Clarion City Council at their April 7 meeting. This issue’s story on the Council meeting contains more information on the City’s role in the project and their recent related financial approvals.

20 lots in the development’s first phase are still available. I2i will soon price the lots at market rate for individual sale.

The winning bidders faced no competition as they bid the minimum opener, $36,000, on lots 4 and 5, the largest lots adjacent to the Landing’s planned retention pond. They were subsequently informed that their chosen lots had a lower minimum sale price, and given the option to either select a cheaper lot or pay the higher cost of $38,000. Both opted for the latter. One member of each bidding household is an employee of Iowa Specialty Hospital, and all members of both households are currently Clarion residents.

“I was impressed with the crowd,” said David Maxheimer of i2i, who estimated that around 40 people attended, including members of i2i.

 “From the i2i standpoint, we’re excited to have the first two lots sold,” Young said, citing additional interest from people who did not attend. “Some were there out of interest in lots, but were uncomfortable bidding at a public auction,” he also noted of the process, with Maxheimer concurring. Discussions Monday at the Supervisors and a local civic club’s meetings were also optimistic that upcoming infrastructural development will continue and heighten interest. Estimates voiced at pervious Clarion City Council meetings had suggested as many as 8 people may have been interested in opening-day bids.

The properties will be officially conveyed to their purchasers around May 31. The Landing’s infrastructure construction is scheduled to begin around May 1, and is expected to be completed by August 31, excepting a pumping station, which should be finished by October 31. “Depending on the contractor, someone might be able to be in a home by Christmas,” Ron Fiscus of Planscape Partners, the project’s legal advice, told the Clarion City Council.

At their April 7 meeting, the Clarion City Council made several approvals related to the project, including awarding the contract to build infrastructure at the Landing to Wicks Construction Co. of Decorah for the apparent low bid of $1,622,907.75.

“We can’t accurately predict how fast lots will sell, so we’ve tried to stay on the conservative side of lot sales,” Fiscus said about the long-term Tax Increment Financing (TIF) repayment for the project. TIF projections are a means that allowed the City to bond money for White Fox Landing based on projected future property tax revenue.

Planscape’s conservative estimates factored in the construction of six homes for Financial Year End 2017 and four more in 2018, with all lots having buildings by 2022, at which point the properties would generate $89,390 in revenue annually.  The estimates figured a $225,000 average property value, $75,000 belowthe Monitor’s estimated probable baseline cost to buy and build on a lot.

By these numbers, the TIF would be cleared and the property’s tax revenue allocation would revert to normal after 16 payments that would end in June of 2032. By the same numbers, the City would receive $1,344,916 in TIF revenue by 2033.

The next hearing on the project – to enter into a General Obligation Corporate Purchase Loan Agreement for an amount less than $3 million to cover the cost of constructing White Fox Landing’s infrastructure – was set for 5:15 at the Council’s next meeting on April 21 in the Council Chambers.

Previously, the Monitor published stories online about the basics of the White Fox Landing Development, the economics of putting up a home in Clarion, and the city and county’s overall housing situation.

Also in the April 10 issue:

More details on the auction.

More information on the development’s finances and other city developments from the Clarion City Council Meeting.

More on housing from the Wright County Supervisors meeting, as the County Economic Development Director recommends the county pursue Maxfield Research to do a study.