City eyes former Cars for Courage site on Brooklyn Boulevard

Brooklyn Center’s Economic Development Authority is considering the acquisition of the former Cars for Courage building and parking lot at 6121 Brooklyn Blvd.

The authority, which includes Mayor Tim Willson and the Brooklyn Center City Council, heard a proposal last week from the owner of the property, presented by Business and Development Director Gary Eitel.

Bob Kagel, of Kagel Acquisition Co., originally acquired the property in January 2009 for $1.5 million. It was first operated as a Cars for Heart dealership and then Cars for Courage until June 1.

Cars for Courage accepts donated vehicles to sell and uses the proceeds to support programs for children and adults with disabilities. The Courage Center, which operates Cars for Courage, recently merged with the Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. As part of the merger, Cars for Courage was moved to the Courage Center’s main location in Golden Valley, said Director of In-Kind Giving Kelly Buttler.

The relocation provides the Courage Center with the opportunity to show people who donate vehicles what their contribution helps support, Buttler said.

Now, the city has the opportunity for redevelopment of another area along Brooklyn Boulevard from Interstate 94 to 49th Avenue.

Funds are available for the city to acquire the property through one of its Tax Increment Financing districts, Eitel said.

Tax increment financing (TIF) is available to cities to use property taxes from development or redevelopment to pay for new projects, according to the League of Minnesota Cities.

The value of a property purchased through TIF and redeveloped is the difference between its tax capacity and revenues before and after construction, according to the League of Minnesota Cities. The taxes paid on the value are used to cover the acquisition and demolition costs incurred by the city.

Cars for Courage is within Brooklyn Center’s third TIF district, which includes the Brooklyn Boulevard/69th Avenue area and the Willow Lane/Highway 252 area.

The district was established in 1994. State law requires that 15 percent of the revenues from the district be deposited in the Economic Development Authority’s housing development account, Eitel said.

Projects funded through that account must provide more housing in Brooklyn Center, he said.

If the city acquires it, Eitel said the Cars for Courage site has potential to be used for senior housing, including independent and assisted living.

“Right now, we’re looking at housing opportunities that would be available for future development,” Eitel said. “There will be a need to expand or replace senior housing opportunities for independent living and assisted care.”

The city has already used the housing development account in the third TIF district to purchase and demolish a single-family home at 6101 Brooklyn Blvd. The home was on a property adjoining the Cars for Courage site.

Brooklyn Boulevard is an ideal location for senior housing because of its proximity to public transportation, retail, churches and medical services, Eitel said. Plans for the Brooklyn Boulevard corridor include adding more pedestrian-friendly amenities, he said

According to Eitel’s presentation last week, there is approximately $8.5 million available for projects funded through the third TIF district until 2021.

If the Economic Development Authority approves the property acquisition and purchase agreement, the next step would involve building demolition and parking lot removal, Eitel said.

“It’s exciting, it’s one more step where the city has the ability to shape it’s future,” Eitel said.

He is working to have a purchase agreement presented to the authority on Monday, Sept. 9.

Mayor Willson said the proposal for the Cars for Courage acquisition fits in with the model of Brooklyn Boulevard corridor. If it were redeveloped into senior housing, that would be even better, he said.

“We know we have a shortage of that in Brooklyn Center,” Willson said.

Residents want to stay in Brooklyn Center as they retire and get older, but the housing options are not available, he said.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Willson said about the Cars for Courage site. “It fits in with everything we’ve been doing the last seven years in redeveloping and rejuvenating Brooklyn Center,” Willson said.


Contact Katy Zillmer at [email protected]