Vacant lot sale causes big stir
Selling a corner lot in downtown Blue Earth proved to be more controversial than the city council bargained for.
The lot, located at the corner of Fifth and Main streets, was put up for bids by the Blue Earth Economic Development Authority (EDA).
That group met on Friday morning, Aug. 14, to review the four bids received and make a recommendation to the council.
On Monday, council members heard the EDA’s recommendation to accept the bid of Southern Jack’s Bar and Grill.
Their bid of $7,500, however, was not the highest bid. Kevin Guilliatt of the Blue Earth General Store had a bid of $7,777.70.
City Administrator Kathy Bailey told the council that the EDA was recommending the Southern Jack’s bid be accepted for several reasons.
“Southern Jack’s had the money with their bid, whereas Guilliatt said he would need up to 30 days to arrange financing,” she says. “Plus the sale to Southern Jack’s would clear up some problems with people outside the bar smoking.”
Bailey says the bar would be putting in a patio area and volleyball courts.
Guilliatt was at the meeting and protested the lot being sold to the second highest bidder.
“It is just not right,” he said. “I had the highest bid and should get the lot.”
Guilliatt said the 30 days needed for getting financing was just a number, and that he has already arranged for the funds.
He responded to a question about his plans for the lot by saying he wants to build a new building for his Blue Earth General Store.
“Business is booming and I need more room,” he says. “And all of the available buildings are 100-years-old and need $50,000 to $70,000 of work.”
He said he would build the building large enough to have space to rent out to other businesses, and could charge $500 per month and fill it.
Guilliatt also said he resented any implications that his business was not important to the community.
“I provide a needed service,” he said. “More so than a bar. I sell items people need and I give away clothes and toys to kids.”
He also said that as far as making a financial impact on the community, his store does better in that category as well.
“I do double the business each day that the bar does,” he claimed. “I have been busy since the day I opened.”
Guilliatt pointed out that the EDA did not give him any instructions on how to bid, and he was never told whether he needed to have a check enclosed with his bid, or when he would have to have the purchase price.
“I only said it might take me up to 30 days to have the financing arranged,” he told the council. “But I only needed a couple of days.”
Councilman Dick Maher, also a member of the EDA board, told Guilliatt that he felt the community would be better served by selling the lot to Southern Jack’s, as there have been problems with the smokers and the noise.
It was Maher who made the motion to accept the bid from the bar, and it passed unanimously.
The other two bids were $2,900 from Bernie Kreiwell and $2 from a group wanting to put up a new theater building.
Bailey said the theater group asked to have the lot held for them while they did fundraising for a new building. The EDA wanted to get rid of the lot now, she said.
“We have over $24,000 invested in the property and we want to get it off city ownership and back to private ownership and on the tax rolls,” she said.