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City settles court case, purchases lot for $100

By Staff | Jun 9, 2008

After avoiding a court battle, Blue Earth now owns the lot and building at the corner of West Fifth Street and Main Street.

City Administrator Ben Martig says the necessary paperwork has been completed and officials should receive a deed for the property soon.

“There’s a chance it could be worth fixing. I don’t think it will be for public use, but more for private development,” says Martig.

The property has been an “eye sore” for some time.

When the owner failed to meet the city’s property maintenance code requirements, officials took matters into their own hands.

Last year, the city spent about $4,000 to board up broken windows.

“We probably spent a little more than we had to. But, we wanted it to look nice from the street,” Martig says.

After sprucing up the building, officials decided to take legal measures.

“We looked at it as a safety and health issue,” Martig says.

City attorney David Frundt says criminal charges were filed against the property owner.

“They were related to the broken windows. It was a public nuisance,” says Frundt.

Part of the settlement, says the city administrator, was the city dropping its case if they could buy the property for $100.

Officials must now decide what to do with the building. Making repairs, which includes a roof that’s caving in, is expected to be costly.

Tearing it down would not be cheap either. Two contractors estimate the cost of demolishing the building between $25,000-$28,000.

“We have heard from the community loud and clear they want to see downtown cleaned up,” Martig says.

Some interest has been expressed in the corner lot.

Jim Beattie says his group is still looking for a site to put a movie theater. He says the 10 members have formed a non-profit incorporation to pursue their venture.

“We are at a standstill right now. We are going to try to raise money to build a theater,” he adds.

Earlier this year, Beattie approached the city Economic Development Authority’s board regarding the Main Street site.

“We’re waiting to see what they (city EDA) do,” Beattie says.

The tax market value of the lot is listed at $24,500 and the taxes are current, says Martig. For 2008, they are $728.