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Wells deals with 3 properties

By Staff | Jun 17, 2018

What is known as the Bidne building in downtown Wells could become city property soon, with plans to demolish the structure which has been deemed unsafe due to a roof about to cave in.

There were three major property ownership issues on the agenda at the Wells City Council meeting last Monday night.

One more step in the process of creating a possible new housing development in the city of Wells took place at the meeting.

After holding a one-minute long public hearing, the council voted unanimously to accept a revised plat map of the area for the housing addition the former USC School location.

Mayor David Braun opened the public hearing at 5:30 p.m., about a half hour after the start of the regular City Council meeting. After asking for any comments from the public, and receiving none, he closed the public hearing.

The council then proceeded to discuss the plat map, which shows the former school grounds divided into three block areas. Block One shows a proposal for five building lots, Block Two has six platted and Block Three has just one large outlot area.

The Wells City Council is concerned about this building in downtown, known as the Bidne building, with roof about to collapse, and hazardous condition inside the building. Plans are for the city to buy the building at the cost of the back taxes.

The city’s Housing Rehabilitation Authority (HRA) owns the land and the next step is for them to develop plans for housing to be built on the land.

The former site of the USC Schools building was not the only property under discussion at the Wells council meeting.

A building in downtown Wells, commonly referred to as the Bidne building, was on the agenda as well.

The structure, located at 4 Broadway South, has been deemed hazardous and in very poor condition.

City engineer Travis Winter and city administrator CJ Holl had inspected the building and recommended action be taken for the city to take ownership and have the building demolished.

“The roof is starting to collapse and the front brick facade is falling off as well,” Holl said. “It needs to come down before it damages the building next door.”

He reported he had met with the owner of the building and they agreed to sell it for $1 on a quit claim deed. However, there is approximately $4,000 in back taxes owed on the building and the city would need to pay those as part of the deal.

The council agreed to both the purchase and paying the back taxes on it. Holl reminded the council that about 60 percent of the back taxes would come back to the city as their share of the property tax.

After agreeing to acquire the property, the council discussed asking the County Board for financial assistance for the demolition.

The third property item had to do with the former Paragon Bank building in downtown Wells, now owned by the city.

Peoples Bank had sold the building to the city for $1 last year, and administrator Holl says now it is up to the city for doing upkeep on the empty structure.

“I am recommending that we add the HVAC (heating-ventilation-air conditioning) maintenance of the Paragon building to our current Honeywell HVAC contract which we have for our other city-owned buildings,” Holl said.

The council agreed and voted to take the offer from Honeywell for $9,200 annually for the HVAC for the Paragon building. A lower quote was $6,092 but did not include parts and labor. Holl said there appeared to be quite a bit of parts replacement necessary in the HVAC system and the higher bid would end up being the better deal.

After the meeting Holl said in an interview with the Faribault County Register that no decisions have been made yet as to what exactly the building will be used for.

“The building is in pretty good shape and relatively new, compared to other downtown buildings, so it would be nice for an office space for a business,” he said. “There is also talk of locating City Hall or the library there. We are certainly interested in ideas from the public for its use.”