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A lot invested

By Staff | May 28, 2017

After presenting final costs of Winnebago’s demolition of an old Main Street outlet store to the Faribault County Board of Commissioners, city administrator Chris Ziegler said Winnebago is hoping to re-acquire the property with the intention of either reselling or redeveloping the lot.

The County Board’s review of demolition costs, which included approval of $10,000 in support from the commissioners on May 16, was “mostly the resolution” of the city and county’s work to clean up the old outlet store lot, Ziegler said.

And with nearly $200,000 already invested into the lot by the start of February, the city administrator suggested Winnebago wants to stay proactive in restoring the property.

“It went back to them (the county) in tax forfeiture,” Ziegler said. “We kind of initiated the process for the demo because we knew the shape it was in and wanted to clean it up.”

It was not long after the outlet store closed up shop around 2014 that the building at the lot, located at 6 Main St. N. in town, was deemed a “danger to the public,” what with falling bricks and water damage threatening the infrastructure of nearby properties.

And the much-discussed and heavily funded demolition, which kicked off in January 2015 and resulted in an accompanying teardown of an old SuperValu building directly south of the property, was not without its complications.

The removal of the building itself spawned a change in the county’s demolition policy.

And with its own structure dependent upon the structure of other longtime downtown buildings, the old outlet store found itself at the center of numerous Winnebago City Council discussions, including an October 2016 request for financial aid from local resident and 14 Main St. N. owner Jens Hodges.

“Mr. Hodges’ building had a common wall with the Roerig Hardware warehouse building, which the city bought for ease of demolition and cost savings,” Ziegler said at an October meeting. “The warehouse building was removed, exposing Mr. Hodges’ building to the elements.”

The council went on to grant $10,000 in repair reimbursements to Hodges, and that cost was but one of many involving repercussions of the outlet store’s demise along Main Street.

After a failed motion from commissioner Tom Loveall to offer $23,000 in assistance to the final bill of outlet store demolition costs on May 16, the County Board approved an offer of $12,000 in aid for the longstanding project, upping their overall investment in Winnebago’s tax-forfeited property to about $85,000.

More than $73,000 of that contribution was paid in April 2015, roughly four months after the outlet store’s demolition.

And the final bills included more than $100,000 paid to M.A.A.C., Inc. for the demo, more than $44,500 for work involving Roerig Hardware walls and more than $8,500 to Bolton & Menk for engineering and building evaluation costs.

“It’s a really expensive project,” commissioner Bill Groskreutz said amid the County Board’s consideration of the $12,000 payment in May. “But you’re going to see this in old downtown buildings.”

Now, after “quite a process,” as Ziegler put it, the city is looking to move forward and prepare for a reacquisition of the lot, post-project.

Winnebago already owns the northernmost lot near the old outlet store location, a 10 Main St. N. property, according to Ziegler, and it still maintains the demolition site, mowing grass and overseeing its condition.

But the ultimate hope after “getting some closure on this,” he said, is to have both those lots, the northernmost space and the old outlet store spot, in city hands for the purpose of restoring a piece of Main Street.