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Historic building purchase advances

Red Wing City Council has continued to move forward with preserving a historic building downtown.

The purchase agreement for the property at 621 W. Fourth St. was approved July 24, with the closing date set for Friday, July 28. Following an inspection earlier this month by council members, Public Works staff, building officials and Heritage Preservation Commissioner Kent Tsui, the purchase price for the property has been set at $350,000.

"I was disappointed, but I think Kent Tsui pointed out in his comments, 'the bones are still there,' what you see is just a lot of neglect," said Council member John Becker, who participated in the tour July 18.

The building will need costs for restoration as well, council members noted, but in the long term the purchase is seen as a service to the community.

While the intended use of the property is housing, a definitive plan is not complete. At previous meetings the council discussed converting the former house — most recently a dental practice — into a homeless shelter.

The purpose behind the purchase is to protect a historic asset and assist in Red Wing's housing needs, according to city documents.

Following discussion, residents expressed their concerns during the meeting about the city pursuing the property purchase.

"That's what's scary for all of us; there's no purpose decided," Pat McKenna said. "If you can give the community what you're going to do with it, maybe people would back you."

The council has to ensure proper funding is set for the property in order to preserve it, people said.

Council member Dan Munson asked staff, "One more question, where's the money going to come from? I don't believe that question has been asked yet."

City Administrator Kay Kuhlmann stated to the council in response to Munson, "It hasn't. This purchase was not anywhere in our strategic plan nor is it in our capital budget ... we'll have to look at moving this one up and something else back. Obviously something has to go."

Given the option to cancel the purchase agreement based on the inspection, council members voted to instead move forward with the purchase agreement. The motion passed 5-2.

Kit Murray

Kit Murray joined Red Wing Republican Eagle in Aug. 2016, covering government, transportation and public safety. She is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead with a degree in photojournalism and philosophy. 

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