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County owns Three Sisters

By Staff | Jul 17, 2016

Faribault County recently took over ownership of the three buildings in downtown Blue Earth known as the Three Sisters. The former owner was a group called the Hot Springs Citizens for Progress, from Hot Springs, South Dakota.

Faribault County recently took over ownership of the three buildings in downtown Blue Earth known locally as the Three Sisters.

And now, the Blue Earth Economic Development Authority (EDA) spent a considerable amount of time discussing several options for the future of the buildings.

“I think you need to look at ‘what’s the plan’ as far as these three buildings go,” Tim Clawson, director of Faribault County Development Corporation told the EDA board at their meeting Thursday morning. “Get it on our radar. What do you think should happen with them?”

Clawson said some local people have suggested the buildings be demolished just because of the way they look run down. Others however, Clawson added, have expressed an interest in buying the buildings and doing something with them.

At least two people have expressed an interest in them, Clawson said, without revealing any names at the public meeting. And EDA board member and local realtor Kara Drake agreed there has been some local interest in purchasing the buildings.

“While the city (EDA) probably does not want to own the buildings long term,” Clawson said, “if we get control of them we would want to do something with them quickly.”

The EDA members agreed that they certainly did not want to let the buildings to remain empty any longer than necessary. And, tearing down three buildings (actually four, as there is one in the back of the three facing Main Street) would leave a large gaping hole downtown.

The question among the EDA members was how much could be done with the county owning it.

“I’m sure we can get permission from the county to show the building or to do site inspections,” Clawson said. “And we could do an RFP (request for proposals) for either uses of the buildings or for inspections.

Mayor Rick Scholtes made a motion to get a structural engineering study conducted on the buildings, to determine what actual condition they are in.

It was seconded by EDA member and city councilman John Huisman, who said he felt it was important to be proactive on the future of the buildings.

However, after quite a bit of discussion, Scholtes and Huisman rescinded their motion and second.

Instead, the EDA board decided to have Clawson and city administrator Tim Ibisch work with the county on the next steps for the Three Sisters. They also instructed Ibisch to get some firm estimates on the cost of doing a structural engineering study and to work with the county on possibly sharing in the cost. Ibisch said he thought the cost could be as much as $20,000.

In other business at last Thursday’s EDA meeting, the board:

Authorized the signing of a co-listing sales agreement for lots in the Golden Spike Business Park.

The agreement, which will include the city, EDA and two local realtors, mainly covers the split of the sales commissions.

“If a lot is sold by either realtor, they will each get a 2-percent commission, with the actual selling agent receiving an additional four percent,” Clawson explained. “And out-of-town broker would receive the four percent if they sell the lot.”

The question was on the sales price of the lot. Clawson said that if the city (EDA) sells the lot for far below market value (just to get a business to locate there) the real estate brokers would still be paid commission on the fair market value.

The EDA agreed that the fair market value be set at $27,500 per acre. The lots are around five acres each.

Discussed the Ag Center parking lot project and learned that the work is scheduled to start on Friday and Saturday, July 29 and 30.

There will be a tenants meeting on Wednesday, July 27, at noon, to go over the work schedule and other items.

The EDA also discussed some other issues with the Ag Center lot, including doing new landscape work in the front of the building, and relocating the U.S. Post Office mail box that is in front of the building.

The EDA also learned that a savings in the striping of the new lot means the overall cost of the parking lot project is now down to $209,000.

Voted to authorize a building facade grant of $4,048 to the Rainbow Food Co-op on Main Street and one for $1,500 to Willette Bros. II on Sixth Street.