City giving land away to new residents

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CLAREMONT, Minn. — Not much is free in this world but if you head to one Minnesota town you can get something major at no cost.

It’s free land.

Claremont, Minn., has one gas station, three churches and just under 550 people — and the town wants more — people, that is.

The city is giving away 14 residential properties for free to people willing to build in town.

It all started in the early 2000s when a developer joined the city in building a subdivision. The price tag for each lot: $30,000.

The plan, though, didn’t pan out.

“The housing market, it hit the downfall and he couldn’t keep up with the payments,” said City Clerk and Treasurer Liz Sorg.

The city was stuck with empty lots and bond payment of $450,000.

For two years the city advertised “free residential properties” on a sign off Highway 14, but there were never any takers.

Now, though, word of the freebie deal has begun to spread. In just two weeks the city has received nearly 200 calls and dozens of emails — some from as far away as Africa.

“So it’s just weeding out the people who want an investment property to sit on forever and people who are serious about building a home,” she said.

To take advantage of the deal, a family of two must earn less than $74,200 a year, a family of three or more less than $85,330.

The prospective land owner also must be willing to build on the lot within 12 months.

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