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HomeArchitectureIRRR Board Awards $1.755 Million for Developments in Cook County

IRRR Board Awards $1.755 Million for Developments in Cook County

At its board meeting on March 26, 2024, the Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabil­itation (IRRR) granted $1,755,000 to assist private developers of five major projects slated to begin con­struction in Cook County this year.

According to the IRRR press re­lease announcing the grants, they are funded by taxes collected from Minnesota’s mining industry.

Explaining the purpose of the grants, the IRRR wrote, “The proj­ects reviewed at today’s board meeting support the agency’s fis­cal year 2024 spending plan, which helps to fund projects in business, community, and workforce devel­opment that retain and create jobs, address customer priorities, lever­age investment and improve the quality of life for all residents.”


The Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) will receive more than half of the approved $1,450,000 in De­velopment Infrastructure Grants.

It received $400,000 for infra­structure and site work for the 10,000-square-foot Mayhew Com­mercial Project in Grand Marais, a mixed-use commercial space that will feature an event center, lodg­ing units, a restaurant, retail spaces, a lounge, and rooftop open space. It will be built on four adjacent city lots on Wisconsin Street, where three businesses were lost to fire in 2020. Joel Saint John, owner of the Mayhew Inn on Wisconsin Street, is developing it.

The EDA received an additional $400,000 to construct infrastructure and do site work for a 9,300-square-foot mixed-use commercial space that will replace Papa Charlie’s restaurant and event venue at Lut­sen Mountains. Papa Charlie’s was destroyed by fire last summer. The new building will include a restau­rant, event center, a bar/lounge, and four lodging units for resort guests.


The Cook County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) received three grants totaling $955,000 for three housing proj­ects.

The HRA was awarded $225,000 to construct infrastructure for a new housing development called Bjork­berg, which will be built in the northwest corner of Grand Marais. It consists of 20 two-story townho­mes intended for workforce housing.

It was awarded $100,000 to con­struct infrastructure to serve Tem­perance Trails, a new housing de­velopment in Tofte that will consist of up to 22 homes: 10 single-family homes and 12 side-by-side townho­mes.

Finally, the HRA was awarded $630,000 for a privately devel­oped, three-story apartment build­ing on Highway 61 on the west side of Grand Marais. Known as The Heights, the building will include 36 apartments and underground parking.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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