Only proposal for Citizens Building pulls backA local organization has shown interest in leasing the Citizens Building from Goodhue County, but wants the County Board to first make a decision about whether it will construct a new building for its Health and Human Services employees.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
A local organization has shown interest in leasing the Citizens Building from Goodhue County, but wants the County Board to first make a decision about whether it will construct a new building for its Health and Human Services employees.
“Over the weekend, Red Wing Ignite asked for their proposal to be removed,” County Administrator Scott Arneson told commissioners at their meeting Tuesday. “They did tell us, after the County Board does make their decision, to contact them.”
For the past couple of years, the board has been contemplating whether to construct a new Health and Human Services building to follow the department’s integration efforts and get all HHS employees into a single location. County staff developed various designs of potential new buildings, but progress halted when the board decided it didn’t want to be sitting on an empty building if employees were moved out of the Citizens Building.
At their meeting in September, commissioners gave approval for the county to issue a request for proposals for the building. Proposals were due near the end of November, and Red Wing Ignite, a not-for-profit organization, showed interest.
But the group is looking for more certainty from Goodhue County before moving forward.
“They’re not going to engage in the lease discussion until the board makes a decision,” Arneson said. “They do not want to be politicized over our decision.”
Red Wing Ignite originally proposed to use the Citizens Building as a business incubator, making it available to businesses with reasonable rent and office support. The organization estimated that the building could support up to 54 small businesses.
“This is something beyond an idea, but something less than a concrete proposal,” County Attorney Steve Betcher said. “Ultimately it’s a good option for further discussion.”
To give the county a better understanding of exactly what Red Wing Ignite is, some members of the organization plan to attend a Goodhue County Technology Committee meeting Jan. 17, Red Wing Ignite Board member Keith Fossen said.
“We want to continue to involve the county, irrelevant of the building,” Fossen said.
Commissioners, including those who aren’t on the Technology Committee, will attend the meeting to gather information.
The board also plans on attending an event at the Anderson Center on Jan. 22 that will feature a US Ignite speaker and help commissioners learn more about the federal program that is funding Red Wing Ignite.