Heard on the Street: Indian community buys former Elk Run land for $15.5 million

January 1, 2019
Three elk walk the hills at the site formerly named Elk Run in 2005.

The Prairie Island Indian Community on Friday paid $15.5 million for an estimated 65 percent of the former Elk Run development land by Pine Island.

PIIC purchased the land from three companies controlled by Tower Investments LLC of Woodland, Calif.

Tower Investments Senior Vice President John Pierce estimated that his firm still owns about 35 percent of the 1,904 acre development area is originally purchased in 2006.

The development is now rebranded as Tower Pine Island. Pierce says his firm is “still moving forward with developing the remainder of the property.”

He described the sale as very positive for Tower’s project.

“More development will helps us all. We’re going to be moving forward this spring on developing both some commercial and resident. Hopefully, it’s going to be a positive thing for the community and the land we have adjacent to it,” said Pierce.

Representatives from Prairie Island were not available to discuss potential plans for the Pine Island land.

Pine Island Mayor Rod Steele said this morning that city leaders had met briefly with representatives of the tribal council and Tower last summer.

That discussion focused on Prairie Island Indian Community’s lack of space to build housing for its people due to Red Wing’s Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Station and the flood plains of the Mississippi River.

“We philosophically chatted about it,” said Steele. “That’s the last I heard about it.”

The talks did not include any mention of possible commercial uses, including a casino, he said.

This sale seems to signal a major change coming for the controversial 1,904 acres of real estate on both sides of U.S. Highway 52 commonly called Elk Run.

John and Karl Hoehne sold their 1,400-acre elk farm to Tower in 2006 to clear the way for a proposed bioscience business park and residential area.

That project never materialized as the economic recession hit and the biotech sector deflated.

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