Archived Story

City approves next step in RTC plan [UPDATED]

Published 10:59am Wednesday, June 22, 2011 Updated 11:30am Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Fergus Falls city council approved the timeline for redevelopment of the remaining Regional Treatment Center property on Monday, setting August 1 as the date that developers can first see the city’s official request for proposals (RFP).

Interested developers have until Nov. 18 to submit a letter of interest and until Feb. 1, 2012 to submit a proposal. The council will make a final decision on whether to accept any of the proposals during the week of April 1, 2012.

The city also firmed up its commitment to making the RFP oriented toward business, particularly “green tech” business with the reuse of the Kirkbride building in mind, with the possibility for residential development left open. Whether or not the city chooses to allow a development on the RTC to be tax exempt will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

The city’s Economic Improvement Commission sent a letter to the council asking that any openness to residential development in the RFP be removed, citing the ready availability of housing in the city and the potential for business reuse of the historic Kirkbride. The council ultimately chose not to change any such wording, however.

“I don’t think we can say there will be no greenfield or residential housing because I think there’s opportunities or potential scenarios that I can’t even think of that may make sense,” said Alderman Eric Shelstad, adding that just because the city gets a proposal doesn’t mean it will accept it. “I think it’s pretty clear that our intent is for jobs and business.”

The council also authorized staff to work with the state Department of Administration to move back the deadline by which the city must use the RTC grant money to Dec. 31, 2013. Currently, the deadline is April 2013. An extension would give the city another season of construction – or demolition – to complete whatever it decides to do with the rest of the property.

“We want to have everything zipped up out there well before that,” said Kent Mattson, the city’s special RTC advisor.

The city also authorized staff to approve up to $30,000 in marketing costs (paid to marketing firms) to promote the RTC to developers via the Internet and other means.

“The goal is to hit it hard with the marketing right away,” said Mattson.

Friends of the Kirkbride Gene and Maxine Schmidt also spoke up during the meeting, first to request that the green space in front of the Kirkbride be preserved as a park and second to suggest that the city take advantage of help from the Minnesota Historic Preservation Office when it comes to promoting the area. Council members and staff said they would keep the suggestions in mind.

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