RTC demo delay makes sense, but not forever [UPDATED]Published 10:14am Monday, December 10, 2012 Updated 12:15pm Monday, December 10, 2012
For one interested developer, delaying the deadline to start the demolition process of the Kirkbride Building on the Regional Treatment Center campus makes sense.
Continuing to delay the deadline for anyone who shows interest does not.
The Fergus Falls City Council this week again heard pleas to delay the December 2013 deadline to begin the demolition process because 10 parties have shown interest.
One developer that has been revealed, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, would be worth waiting for. The group already manages a Kirkbride facility in West Virginia, and appears to be operating it successfully as a tourist attraction. The city should provide the group flexibility on a timeline, if the group truly feels an RTC redevelopment project would be feasible.
However, the city needs to let the RTC deadline come to pass eventually.
It seems that a cycle has now been established when it comes to the RTC. A group or individual falls in love with the idea of redeveloping the RTC, the group or individual spends time digging into the details of the project, and after determining the cost to redevelop it — estimated at nearly $100 million — and the lack of public funding available, finds the project unworkable or doesn’t have the funds.
The city could continue to look for a developer indefinitely, and the state probably would delay the demolition deadline indefinitely. However, as much as we all would like the RTC redeveloped, if continued delays results in a blighted, ever-eroding building, at some point, it’s important for the council to go ahead with demolition.
Let’s give Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum a chance to show what they can do, and determine if they can make re-development of the RTC work. But if they can’t, then it’s time to move ahead with demolition.