Albert Lea works to improve housing and infrastructure

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(ABC 6 NEWS) – The Albert Lea City Council is continuing to see progress after a successful year in 2021.

One of the biggest focuses for the city council was adding more housing to the city in 2021.

There is a large market-rate housing project being built in the Blazing Star Landing Area.

There is also some housing being put into the old VFW building.

The council wants more people living in Albert Lea as work from home becomes more common for employers.

"A recent study showed that we need 300 or more new rental units to keep up with the housing need that is out there, and to help with that the council has reworked our tax abatement program for new housing," Third Ward Councilor, Jason Howland said.

This is one way they are hoping to spur growth and they want to give developers an incentive to rehab some older homes and buildings in town.

Another big project in the works is the Central Water Tower.

The tower was demolished in 2021, and the footings for the new tower are now in place.

They are hoping to have the Central Water Tower up this year.

For the past two years, Bridge Avenue was under construction and now there is another part of town that will get some road work.

"The city is working with the county and the state because that is a state highway we are working with mn dot replacing East Main Street that is the major thoroughfare for folks coming into Albert Lea and that is going to be a big change for folks," Howland said.

A major concern with East Main St. is the flooding that happens on the road when there is a lot of rain.

The city is also being required by the Minnesota Pollution Control to upgrade its wastewater treatment facility and reduce phosphorus levels going into the Shell Rock River.

That is a $60 to $80 million project.

"It could cripple this city if we don’t receive help from the state and so this year we are going to be asking our state legislators for help and bonding in that as well as grants," Howland said.

Howland said the Vortex Cold Storage building is almost complete as well.

Howland also mentioned there is some big news coming to Albert Lea that could have the potential to bring over 100 jobs to the city.

Howland was unable to give any more details but said we could learn more this month.