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First look at new Chamber building

By Staff | Sep 3, 2017

This first draft drawing by Brunton Architects shows what the new Chamber of Commerce building in Blue Earth may look like. Final plans are in the process now.

While it is just a preliminary architect’s drawing of what the new Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce building could conceivably look like, the Blue Earth City Council was impressed.

But, they also had a few comments and questions about it, as well.

Chamber executive director Cindy Lyon was at the last council meeting to give an update on the building, which is set to be built in the area in front of the Green Giant statue.

The building will be the new home of the Chamber offices, visitor’s information center, gift shop and the Giant Museum.

Lyon showed the council the drawing of the outside of the building, the floor plan and a drawing showing the location of the building itself.

The drawings were done by Brunton Architects of Mankato, Lyon said, and stressed they are still preliminary plans.

She said the next step is to finalize the plans with both Brunton and with Bolton and Menk Engineers.

“We plan to advertise for bids in January, and open and award the bids in February,” Lyon said. “Construction would probably start in April after the road restrictions are lifted and the construction equipment can get here.”

The council had a few questions about the building drawings.

Councilman Dan Warner wondered about having just one emergency exit from the Giant Museum area, saying he thought there maybe should be more.

“The architect felt that one was adequate,” she replied. “It is based on there being 30 to 40 people inside at the most, like one class room of kids, or one bus load of visitors.” Mayor Rick Scholtes wondered about having the main entrance on the east side of the building, while the parking lot would be on the south side.

“Won’t most people come from the parking lot and try to get in through the south door,” he wondered, “instead of coming through the main front doors?”

The thought was the main doors would still be used, Lyon said, adding it would be the main entrance.

Other questions concerned the inside layout, an area for a meeting room, and solving the drainage issue on the property.

As far as the drainage goes, Lyon said Bolton and Menk engineers are working on how to best handle the wet grounds in the location.

One of the reasons the building is now going to be located at the same site as the former gas station that was demolished earlier this year, is because of drainage. Originally the new building was going to be along a north/south axis, and located on the western side of the property.

Lyon stressed these were all first renderings of the proposed building and not all of the Chamber officers had even seen the plans and drawings at the time of the council meeting.

She also noted that the plans should all be considered very preliminary, and may change several times before the final plans are accepted and then presented to the public.

The fundraising for the new building also is continuing, according to Lyon.

The Chamber has raised some monies on their own, as well as getting a state grant of $300,000. They are at just over half of the money needed, so they are still looking for more donations from the public.

Lyon said the Chamber Board feels that with the progress being made on the building project, people will be more willing to come forward and make a donation.

“We are thinking about having some sort of fundraiser again this fall,” she said. “But no definite plans have been made.”

Even though the drawings are preliminary first drafts, she hopes it causes some additional excitement and funding for the project.