Archived Story

Don’t allow city to become shell of what could have been

Published 10:32am Monday, May 7, 2012

It is common knowledge that dollars spent with the businesses in one’s local community have a 5 to 7 times impact on the local economy because they turn around in that community many times.

It is also common knowledge that communities the size of Fergus Falls who are successful in job creation take advantage of every asset they have: the ideas and energy of their citizens, natural resources, transportation infrastructure, buildings, people’s talents, and their educational systems.

They use the whole human and physical dynamic, including seeking diversity of opinion, as they pull together to the common, positive end of growing jobs that pay well and offer diversity of employment opportunities. Without this approach and job creation success, graduates of our community who want to come home to raise their children and experience the quality of life and the school system a community the size of Fergus Falls can offer are unable to do so because they can’t find employment.

Think what the impact of $500 to $700 million dollars of money going through the Fergus falls economy over five years would be like? Think what bringing not 10 -30 jobs but 100+ new long-term, middle to upper level jobs to the community could mean to our schools, our churches, our main street, our property tax rolls.

Think what a second and likely a third internationally recognized company headquarters would mean to Fergus Falls and the recognition that our community and your business would have as you interact with the customers and suppliers important to your business in this global economy.

This is what a redeveloped RTC means to this community.

At the April 30 Council work session, City staff (This does not include the independent Fergus Falls Economic Improvement Commission and its Director.) recommended — immediate — commencement of demolition of the RTC with the singular exception of the tower building. (The power source building is to be one of the first properties to be destroyed.)

The City Council has a distinct pattern of acceptance of every recommendation from City staff; and they will vote on that recommendation May 7.

As you consider whether you will contact your Council Member and if you will attend the Council meeting next Monday, here is some information you may want to consider:

• There are reuses for the RTC being considered by parties across the nation, which support the above statistical jobs references. They are contingent on this property.

• There are developers and private investors who could be interested in portions of the RTC for redevelopment, but they do not know the rules of engagement with the City about the property and they are fearful of engaging with the City after having witnessed the public humiliation of others when appearing before the City Council. (See PEG ACCESS tapes).

• The City was given $1,000,000 in 2007 to maintain the RTC, as well as, to promote and research the reuse of the RTC. The Council authorized the expenditure of $32,000 for marketing of the RTC. At present there is approximately $870,000 remaining of these monies.

• The very limited marketing efforts for the RTC included documentation that caused developers to actually point out its negativity.

• That no formal notice was given to the Minnesota real estate and architectural community. No evidence of targeted personal outreach has been found either.

• That the Fergus Falls Economic Improvement Commission and the Friends of the Kirkbride arranged the only public information meetings with these parties last fall when it became evident that the City had planned no such effort. Each of the developers (there are several) who came to those meetings and thereafter submitted letters of intent for RTC redevelopment, remains interested in working with the project and has been following our Council’s treatment of interested developers.

• That Jeff Schlossman, owner of our Mall, owner of ? the property at the RTC, and a successful real estate developer publically stated that the, just completed, RFP timeline was unreasonable. This was echoed by several of the other interested developers.

• That Representative Nornes publically stated, in the council chambers during the last year and on multiple other occasions, that he would be happy to be of assistance — at the City’s request — in working with the State during this redevelopment process for both more resources for redevelopment and for an extension of time for use of the dollars the City holds for redevelopment infrastructure or in the alternative demolition. (This deadline is driving the push for demolition.) No one from the City has contacted him.

• That a developer was publically chastised, when appearing before the City Council, for having spoken to our elected state representative. That chastisement is being used in classrooms nationally as an incorrect example of civic process.

• That City staff has stated that RTC redevelopment is an awfully lot to take on. That City staff has encouraged those looking at RTC redevelopment to not use the structure and the City would help them build another building.

• That some residents of the City who were supposed to serve on an official task force further looking into the Veterans Rehabilitation Center potential, were not contacted or invited to participate. The “task force” made a recommendation against further pursuit of that use. A use fitting within the parameters for military veteran resources.

• That the use on the horizon for the bare land created by demolition of the RTC, based on B-2 zoning, is retail and residential, including multiple and single family units. This zone is not a magnet for job creation based on the allowed uses for the zone according to state code.

• Buildings on the RTC land, whether rehabilitated or built, have a 15 year complete tax benefit package. Due to these tax savings, residential development on this land will have an inequitable advantage over all other development locations within the city. The likely result being negative impact on the development and valuation of other bare real estate and on the resale of existing single family units within the City/area.

• The tax benefits put in place on the RTC property by the state legislature were intended for redevelopment of the existing RTC buildings to enhance job creation. Inclusion of residential use as an allowed use for redevelopment was to enable some upper floor condominiums, if such was the mixed use redevelopment chosen.

They were not intended to be an inequitable benefit/windfall to the fortunate party who gets access to the bare land.

• The appropriate steps for working with a National Register Historical Property have not all been followed in this demolition process.

Your consideration of the impact on the future of the City of Fergus Falls if we do not take this opportunity to grow our job base and accordingly our economy is very important. We don’t want our beautiful city to become a residential location only and a shell of its potential because it cannot support the livelihoods of the generations to come. We must turn around the word on the street that Fergus Falls is a difficult place to do business and to grow business. Your voice matters.


Lois Josefson

Fergus Falls

  • nanajean


  • DavePMN

    Wow. Thank you for posting all of this information about the building and the land. Being an “outsider”, one doesn’t know most of this. Very eye opening.

  • shamrock

    Great job!!!!!!

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