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BE EDA discusses empty building

By Staff | Nov 17, 2019

The Main Street Agency building is located at 101 South Main Street in Blue Earth.

The Blue Earth EDA has recently toured the interior of 101 South Main Street, which is host to multiple apartments and was the location of Main Street Agency until last June. Now, the EDA is wondering if the building should stay, or if it should go.

“I think it’s a tear down project,” said EDA member Ann Hanna.

“There is some potential to the building. It is an older building, but with a proper gut job, I think it could still be usable,” said city administrator Tim Ibisch.

“It’s got to be one thorough gut job,” added EDA member Lissia Laehn. “There’s asbestos in there and that east wall was looking pretty bad.”

Members discussed two different potential outcomes: if the building stays up, what it would look like with a complete remodel of the inside. The EDA discussed the potential of more apartments, as well as a potential storefront. They also discussed the possibility of a demolition of the building. An idea discussed by the EDA regarding the potential of an open lot included restructuring Gazebo park to become a parking lot and moving the park and its gazebo components to the lot of 101 South Main.

“I say we get a structural engineer to look at the building and see what we can actually do in there,” said Mayor Rick Scholtes, which became a formal motion. Four of the five EDA members in attendance approved the motion, while Ann Hanna voted nay. EDA member Bill Rosenau was not present.

With regard to the EDA members, a new member was introduced to the board. Jamie Jones joined the EDA board and was welcomed by its members. Jones is replacing Greg Ewing on the board. Jones is the new owner of Thriving Acres Seeds in the Blue Earth business park.

The EDA’s November business spotlight went to Nick Schwager and Randy Anderson of Anderson Electric. Randy Anderson will be retiring from the business at the end of the year. He owned and operated Anderson Electric since 1985 and recently handed over the reins to Schwager. The business has seven full-time employees.

Schwager is originally from Sherburn. He and his family moved to Blue Earth in 2006, and he is a 2008 Blue Earth Area High School graduate. Once he completed his college education at Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Jackson in the field of electrical training, he began working for Anderson Electric in 2010.

Anderson shares he has had a transition plan for his business for the past five years and is grateful the company was able to transition to Schwager instead of being sold to an outside company or auctioned off. The Rural Entrepreneurial Venture, REV, group was instrumental in Anderson Electric’s transition.

“I’m thankful there was a transition plan for this company, otherwise we could have lost this local business, and we truly have a need for electricians, plumbers, and HVAC specialists,” said Laehn.

“Have you considered expanding with HVAC and plumbing?” asked Ibisch of Anderson and Schwager.

“That ball is already rolling, but I think it may be just a little while before that portion of the business is up and running,” said Schwager.

In other topics, the Blue Earth EDA

Received an invoice regarding new signage at the Ag Center. The updated sign includes new tenant pannels to inform customers and travelers what businesses are located at the Ag Center. The EDA approved the balance of the cost of the new sign at $1,201.24.

Discussed and approved a lease agreement listing for the farming property of Outlot A of the Blue Earth Shopping Center subdivision in the city of Blue Earth, which is near the city’s new housing development. The farm lease includes 17 acres to be leased for two years at $210 per acre. EDA member John Huisman made a motion to list the leasing in local publications. Laehn seconded the motion, which passed.

The next regular Blue Earth EDA meeting is scheduled for Dec. 12, at city hall, at 7:15 a.m.