Officials doing their homework on old Kenyon schoolDiscussions continue regarding the fate of Kenyon's former high school.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
Discussions continue regarding the fate of Kenyon's former high school.
Goodhue County and Kenyon city officials are considering hiring an architect to determine possibilities for the dilapidated building, said Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel, who represents the Kenyon area.
"Right now there are just a lot of ideas floating around," he said. "There's going to be a lot of different versions of right when it comes to what to do with this building. It will come down to money, which is a scarce resource."
The old school was abandoned in the mid-1990s when the new high school opened.
An investor's grand plans for the building - which included a coffee shop, banquet facility, office space, and apartment buildings - crumbled in 2007 when he filed bankruptcy.
The fate of the building has been rocky ever since.
The building's owner owes back taxes on the property, said Carolyn Holmsten, Goodhue County finance director. Should the owner -- a New York bank -- opt not to pay, the land will forfeit to the state next year.
At that point, Holmsten said the land could be auctioned off or a public entity like the city could acquire it for public use.
"Everyone is trying to look ahead and determine if this does forfeit to the state what can we do and start talking about it now," Holmsten said.
Rechtzigel said there has been talk of turning the building into a community center. Others just want officials to do something about the run-down structure, which is an eyesore to neighbors.
"People just want something to be done with it so that it doesn't just sit there and attract rodents," Rechtzigel said.
While grants and other monies are available, the commissioner said it may not be enough to pay for an extensive rehabilitation project and that the building will cost more to tear down than the structure and land are worth.
Rechtzigel said officials will continue to brainstorm ideas.
They have been working with Ron Ziegler of the Southeastern Minnesota Development Corporation, the firm that assists the Goodhue County Economic Development Authority.
"I think if we don't take a proactive approach it's probably going to sit around like that for many more years," Ziegler said. "There are people working on this behind the scenes to see if we can get something to happen."
Kenyon's old school has been compared to Red Wing's former Central High School, which was converted into a 21-unit condominium complex in 2007. Many of the building's 21 units remain empty.
Kenyon City Administrator Chris Heineman told the Republican Eagle earlier this year he does not want to see the old high school turned into condos.
"If Red Wing has not been successful in filling a building with that wonderful restoration, then how can Kenyon find success?" Heineman said.