City, county have different ideas for downtown lot

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The purchase of a lot located in downtown Red Wing is in high demand.

A small parcel located behind Health and Human Services at 621 W. Fourth St. has Red Wing and Goodhue County in line for purchase. But the parties' reasoning for the purchase are at variance.

"Since the County Board's decision to expand the Health and Human Services Building, it has been Goodhue County's intent to acquire properties on that block, including now the only remaining property that is not owned by United Lutheran Church or Goodhue County," said Scott Arnesson, county administrator. "This is a part of Goodhue County's plan for parking and potential long-term expansion in the area."

Goodhue County has not yet set a board meeting to discuss purchasing the land at this location, according to county administration.

On Monday, City Council held a closed session to discuss developing an offer for the same property.

"I hate to see another building downtown go away and wind up with a bigger parking lot," said Kim Beise, council president.

Following Monday's session, Beise said, the city will continue to discuss opportunities for the property and neighborhood. On Wednesday, July 5, at 6:30 p.m., the city's Advisory Planning Commission will conduct a special meeting at City Hall to review and comment on the possible purchase.

Council members earlier this week questioned the need to involve the Planning Commission. However, on Friday the city attorney determined that Minnesota Statute 462.356 requires that prior to the governing body acquiring or disposing of land, or authorizing a capital improvement, the commission must review the action and report in writing its findings as to compliance with the Red Wing Comprehensive Plan.

The main reason for the purchase, Beise said, is to protect downtown Red Wing with hopes of turning the location into a homeless workshop or shelter.

"It has to come back before the council and have an inspection and it might not fit even that need," Beise said of the former historic home that houses a dental office. "A lot of variables need to be discussed."