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Mill has new owner [UPDATED]

Published 7:53am Monday, January 14, 2013 Updated 11:00am Monday, January 14, 2013

The iconic flour mill building on Union Avenue near the bridge could be developed soon.

According to Bruce Fuhrman, Broker for RE/MAX Realty who represents the property for owner Steve Cheney, an offer was received and accepted from Nicholas Roberts in December.

Roberts constructed the Red River Village Apartment project located behind Target in Fergus Falls that opened in the fall of 2011, which he owns with his sister Anna Hilleren.

While plans for development of the mill are in its infancy, Roberts is willing to share his initial concepts on developing the mill into a multi-use building while maintaining the character of the building. He also hopes to speak with potential tenants.

“The current concept for the property would include a first-floor restaurant, with a patio overlooking the Otter Tail River, two or three floors would be reserved for offices, and two floors of condominiums,” said Roberts. “We are working hard to create a property that can be a centerpiece in the downtown Fergus Falls city scape, and will try and maintain and preserve the historic aspect of the building.”

The sale is currently in a period of due diligence, giving Roberts an opportunity to investigate the property and the transaction contemplated by the contract and to determine, in his sole discretion, whether or not to terminate or proceed with the transaction.

During this period, issues like zoning, environmental inspection, determining the structural integrity of the building, finding prospective tenants for the property and making sure that is financially feasible will be reviewed.

“Due to the scope of the project we anticipate the due diligence to take several months,” said Fuhrman. “It’s an exciting opportunity for the town, and could be the catalyst for other projects in the area.”

While Roberts currently lives in the Twin Cities, he often ventured up to lakes country as a child, since his parents had a cabin on Pickerel Lake. Roberts also lived on campus while he attended Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, where he met his wife.

“While most kids were busy playing sports, I spent time looking out my Hillcrest dorm room window planning this development project,” said Roberts. “It has been a dream of mine since high school to see the old flour mill brought back to life.”

Roberts added that a lot of work will be done up front to make sure construction costs are affordable and to determine if businesses and individuals would have an interest in the property to ensure long-term stability.

“We believe that we will also be able to incorporate an underground parking element for the residents and office users,” said Roberts. “There is a lot of clean up in the building, but it beats the alternative of tearing it down.”

Interested prospective tenants may contact Nick Roberts through Roberts Management Group, 1851 Buerkle Road Saint Paul, MN 55110 or by calling 651-773-3485.

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