Cash award offered to lot buyers in Luverne

LUVERNE -- Tough economic times require creative thinking, and that is exactly what is taking place inside the office of the Luverne Economic Development Authority (LEDA).

LUVERNE -- Tough economic times require creative thinking, and that is exactly what is taking place inside the office of the Luverne Economic Development Authority (LEDA).

LEDA has unveiled a new incentive to fill vacant lots in two separate subdivisions on the north side of its community -- cold, hard cash. This follows last May's promotion to give away lots in the Sybesma subdivision to people who committed to building a home in the residential neighborhood.

Jill Wolf, LEDA director, can only hope the new promotion is as successful as the free lot concept. Just three of the 20 lots offered in the Sybesma subdivision remain since the program was unveiled 11 months ago, and there is continued interest in those, she said.

In its latest endeavor, LEDA is offering two remaining lots in its Veterans subdivision and 13 lots in the Evergreen First addition to people who plan to build a home and reside in the community. In exchange, LEDA will give a $2,000 grant for each member who will live in the home once the certificate of occupancy has been signed. For a family of four, that means an $8,000 grant. Wolf said LEDA will pay up to a maximum of $12,000 per family. Children up to age 18 who are still claimed on their parents' tax return can be counted for purposes of the grant. Also, the certificate of occupancy must be signed by Nov. 1, 2009.

Both of the residential developments are on the north side of Luverne, east of U.S. 75.


"The two neighborhoods are pretty well developed already, and we have some nice lots remaining in there," Wolf said. The ability to offer such an incentive was possible because there is no longer any debt remaining on the development of the divisions, she added.

The lots eligible for the grant dollars range from $15,000 to $16,000, with two offered at $17,500. Each lot is roughly 100- by 100-feet.

"They are nice size lots in a very nice neighborhood," Wolf said. "They are close to the pool and fitness center, the bike trail ... within walking and riding distance to the state park, the school and hospital."

Since the incentive was unveiled at a LEDA board meeting a week ago, Wolf said she has already received more than a handful of calls from interested individuals. Much of the interest so far has been from within the community, which Wolf also sees as positive because it opens up older homes in the community.

"There's more of a need for starter homes, so this would promote that as well," she added.

LEDA set several goals in creating the new incentive -- primarily to promote housing construction and population growth within the city, but also to increase the tax base and bring in families with children to fill desks in the school system.

"With the Sioux Falls (S.D.) market booming the way it is, ... we really want to have something to pull people 15 miles further to Luverne and show people the quality of life over here," Wolf said. "We want to (pull) them over the border rather than choosing Brandon, Tea or Harrisburg."

Already, Wolf said 33 percent of the available workforce in Rock County commutes to Minnehaha County, S.D. The average commute time for those residents is 20 minutes.


As if the grant money wasn't incentive enough to get people to build a home in Luverne, Wolf said LEDA is partnering with the Luverne Area Chamber of Commerce to create a welcome package for those who purchase one of the qualifying lots. Though the details have not been fully completed, Wolf said the package will include things like savings certificates and deals to local businesses. A free one-year membership to the local pool and fitness center may also be included in the package.

"(The package is) also supporting local businesses and familiarizing potential new residents to all of the businesses that we do have in the community," Wolf said. "If they use their one-year free membership, hopefully, they would join (the pool and fitness center) after that. It's to get people here and get them involved in the community."

Once the last remaining lots are spoken for in the Veterans subdivision and Evergreen First Addition, there will still be plenty of opportunity for people to relocate to Luverne. Evergreen Second Addition has 14 available lots, and work continues on the newest development, Manfred Heights Addition.

Located on land donated to LEDA by Sanford Luverne Hospital, Wolf said all proceeds collected from the sale of the 24 single family and eight twin-home lots will be given to the Luverne Education Center for Health Careers. Excavation is now taking place on Manfred Heights, with water, sewer, electric and street work expected to be completed in September. Lots in the addition will be available for purchase beginning April 29.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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