Archived Story

Disabled vets center eyed for RTC

Published 11:12am Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A use for the Kirkbride building may have finally been found — and it might involve the development group that originally wanted to build an international business school on the site.

City Administrator Mark Sievert on Monday outlined to the City Council an opportunity he had been made aware of only Monday morning. Sievert had been in communication with Jeff Schlossman, senior vice president and owner of Goldmark Schlossman Commercial Real Estate Services Inc. and a partner with Campus Development Group (CDG), the group planning on developing part of the Regional Treatment Center property.

Schlossman had been in contact with the Friends of the Kirkbride group in Fergus Falls, and on Monday he presented Sievert with a proposal to turn the Kirkbride building into a disabled veterans family reintegration and therapeutic care command. Essentially, the facility would help recently-returning disabled veterans reintegrate into civilian life.

“The federal government,” Sievert told the Journal, “is working to develop these types of facilities throughout the country.” He believes that a project like this one is one of the only ways the state of Minnesota would extend the $7.1 million development and/or demolition grant awarded to the city for the property. Right now, the grant is set to expire in April 2013.

Schlossman proposed to Sievert that the city and either he individually or CDG as a whole enter into a consulting agreement with TENICA and Associates, a Virginia-based consulting firm presided over by President and CEO Terry Scherling, a Fargo native familiar with the RTC property. TENICA would then work with Spectrum Consulting, another consulting firm with political and military connections in the Washington, D.C. area, connections which could guide the project to completion. Scherling has also worked with Spectrum.

Sievert explained that Schlossman believes working with TENICA rather than going directly to Spectrum will save money. However, Sievert told the council, it would be in the city’s best interests to move quickly.

“Jeff really had expressed to me that time was of the essence to keep things moving forward,” he said.

The council unanimously approved the consulting agreement. The city will pay $10,000 of its grant money in the agreement, and Schlossman or CDG will also pay $10,000. Schlossman, said Sievert, is committed to the idea whether CDG is or not, although he added that CDG has changed its old business school plans into plans that would cater to a reintegration center.

Before the vote, Councilmember Randy Synstelien asked Sievert about the usefulness of continuing to go back and forth with CDG over how much of the RTC property the group wishes to develop.

“We’ve got to, at some point, close on (the property CDG wants) and move on with the rest,” he said.

Sievert recognized the point, but he added that city staff had been instructed to work on more ways to save the building from destruction as the deadline for the end of the grant continued to move closer. Though staff is also looking at some other options, this one, he said, appears to be viable.

“It sounds like an opportunity we do have to proceed with,” said Mayor Hal Leland.

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