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Dakota County eyes hotel for potential future property to shelter the unhoused

County commissioners are voting Tuesday on whether to apply for a $10 million grant from the Department of Human Services.

EAGAN, Minn. — On Tuesday morning, Dakota County commissioners will hold a special meeting to discuss a new homeless shelter that, if approved, would be the first adult shelter in the suburbs.

The proposed site is the Norwood Inn & Suites hotel in Eagan, which is still in operation right off Interstate 35E and Cliff Road.  

"This is exactly what we do not need in this area," said Ramsey Ansari, whose family owns the restaurant right next to the hotel. "The last few years, it’s been pretty troublesome."

Ansari says the hotel is notorious for transients, and police can show up multiple times a day. He fears it will get worse if it's turned into a shelter. Besides restaurants, there is also a park and elementary school nearby.

"They could do better on the location," said Ansari.

At the meeting, commissioners will vote on whether to request a $10 million grant. The funding from the Department of Human Services comes with a deadline on Thursday. DHS then informed Dakota County that it will make decisions and communicate awards by late November. 

The entire project could cost the county about $24 million.

Longtime resident Michael Awada said he first heard about the proposal late last week. Since then, he started a petition against the proposal that has since garnered nearly 800 signatures. 

"It says that people are concerned about a potential redevelopment like this," said Awada, who has lived in Eagan since 1990. "I honestly think there are much more responsible locations for a homeless shelter in the city of Eagan."

The latest data shows about 1,000 people are homeless Dakota County. Dakota Woodlands is the only shelter for families for in the county, which started in 1981. 

Leaders say that building another one could take years and plans will be given careful consideration. 

Tuesday's meeting starts at 11 a.m. and there will be time for public comment. The county reiterated that Tuesday's vote is the first step in a long process, and if commissioners move forward, there will be community engagement for months to come. 

The City of Eagan says the county hasn't officially filed a proposal with the city, so it doesn't have any specific details. 

On behalf of the mayor, a spokesperson wrote in a statement, "When and if we receive an official application, I can assure you that it will be given careful consideration with the safety and well-being of all of our residents being of the utmost importance.”


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