Time an issue for RTC developers [UPDATED]Published 12:08pm Thursday, December 6, 2012 Updated 12:09pm Thursday, December 6, 2012
The marketing firm hired by the city to sell the Regional Treatment Center now has a second prospect to submit a letter of interest, but like others to show interest in the facility, the short timeline is an issue.
Concept development consultant Terrence Scholz recently submitted a letter to marketing firm Colliers International and city leaders.
Scholz wrote in the letter, “Our initial reviews of the property has brought us to the conclusion that a mixed use development which could include a Destination Spa/Health and Wellness Center, Hotel, Restaurants, Shops, Events Center, Market Rate Housing (both for sale and rental), Veterans Programs and Offices could be a viable and successful development.”
Scholz’ intentions for the building are much different than the plans provided by the West Virginia firm, which submitted a letter of interest outlining potential plans to turn the RTC into a tourist destination.
“I was reading a Minneapolis paper on a Friday morning while having coffee when I read a small article in the real-estate section,” Scholz said. “I read about it online, and I fell in love with the building. I started making calls to people I know about making renovations. I looked at the building, and I’ve had some people interested in doing some things, but at this point, we haven’t had a real good timeline.”
Time has been an issue for many involved with the process. Colliers is halfway through its six-month contract, and prospects have expressed problems being prepared to sign a contract before the city’s December 2013 cutoff date.
“The present timeline for submittals makes it impossible for us to commit to a project such as this at this time,” Scholz’ letter stated. “However, we are sincerely interested in working with the City of Fergus Falls in developing the property and request a six-month reprieve from the demolition of the facilities so that we may further research and develop plans, feasibility studies and funding options.”
On Monday, the City Council discussed the possibility of extending the demolition date and Colliers contract to allow prospects more time to plan and study possible options for the facility. No action was taken, but the council plans to meet with Rep. Bud Nornes to further discuss the issue.
“I guess you wish that it started earlier, but since it’s now underway, and (Colliers International seems) to be making progress, I think we need to allow them the time to put the effort in that it takes,” Nornes said.
According to Nornes, the worst-case scenario would be for the building to sit and do nothing, he said.
“I guess If I were wishing for the ultimate success, it would be for somebody to come in, take ownership and renovate,” he said. “You want it to be well taken care of. My fear is that it could just sit there. I would hope it has a more useful future than that. It should employ as many people as possible, generate returns and be maintained correctly so it doesn’t become an eyesore.”
While he admitted he will need to catch up on the details, Nornes said he is confident something can be made of the building.
“I’m optimistic, and I think everyone agrees we need to allow as much time and opportunity as we can to do this right,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to cut (Colliers International) off part of the way through. There needs to be a little flexibility as we see the work they are doing.”