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Empty downtown buildings a concern in BE

By Staff | Mar 29, 2010

Several months ago it appeared Blue Earth’s worries of filling two large retail buildings on Main Street were over.

But, after nearly one year in operation, the Blue Earth General Store — located in a portion of the old L & M Motors building on North Main — is shutting its doors.

A close-out sale began during the week of March 15 and will continue until everything is sold.

“I’ve chosen poorly. I accept the blame for my failure,” says owner Kevin Guilliatt.

At the other end of Main Street, three buildings purchased by a South Dakota non-profit group in 2008 remain empty.

Despite not being current with their real estate taxes, a spokesman for Hot Springs Citizens for Progress says they still have plans for the property.

Robert Johnson says “limited resources” and a legal matter have stalled their project at the corner of East Seventh and South Main streets.

“Don’t measure our intent by our lack of activity,” he says. “We are an honorable organization. Our sole goal is to save buildings. We’re still very interested.”

In a “Notice of Delinquent Taxes” recently published, the non-profit organization is listed as owing nearly $715.

Johnson says non-payment of the taxes is a minor oversight. He says last August he paid them in full while in Blue Earth.

“It’s not being ignored. The buildings aren’t going to be taken because of taxes we may owe,” he says.

Because the group has attained non-profit status, he adds, they will not have to pay taxes beginning this year.

Shelley Greimann, executive director of the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce, says she has not been in contact with Johnson since the buildings were purchased.

Windows cardboarded up and the appearance of an unkempt abandoned property, Greimann admits, has her a little concerned.

Greimann says she may contact Johnson to let him know the city is supportive of his group’s efforts.

“This is our community and we want to be proud of it. We want to help them any way we can,” she says. “We want to work together for progress and to make things better.”