Rice County Board Discusses Downtown Development or Destruction
The future of the former Faribault Woolen Mill building just east of the Rice County Courthouse in downtown Faribault could be demolition. A few other buildings could be gone soon also.
The Rice County Commissioners meeting today as a Committee of the Whole received a report from Vold Architects on what it would cost to bring the building to a usable state.
Jacob Wollensak shared the cost estimate ranged between 3.5 million and 5 million dollars.
Commissioner Jeff Docken stated, "I don't think it would be worth the investment. I'm not sure what it means to have a February 16th meeting with the Faribault Heritage Preservation Commission. Obviously we want the history of the building recorded and stuff. That's not to say we can't take out some minute part of the building that can be preserved in some way, shape or form to say here is where the original (Woolen Mill) building once stood. I don't find objection in that."
"I guess that's my opinion", Docken added, "It just is not the kind of investment we would want to make for Rice County."
Following a meeting in July KDHL contacted Rice County Historical Society Director Susan Garwood to find out if the building was (as rumored) on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Building is not because it is not in it's origninal architectural state. Designed by Olaf Hanson the building was constructed in 1895. Hanson is believed to be the first deaf architect.
At the July meeting Commissioners Jim Purfeerst and Dave Miller vocalized their desire concerning the situation.
Purfeerst stated, "The building's lived it's life. It just isn't feasible to put that kind of money into it." (They were discussing $500,000 to shore up the foundation)
Miller expressed his opinion, "It makes no economic sense to put anymore money into this building. If we're going to spend taxpayer's money on this building I would have a problem with that."
There was no furthur discussion about what the plans are for the North Block Downtown Development as it's called (it's on the south side of 4th street to the east of the courthouse but to the north of Central Avenue.)
I spoke with County Parks and Facilities Director Matthew Verdick about the plans. Verdick says nothing definite has been decided by Commissioners.
However it appears the county is getting ready to demolish some of the buildings.
Brazil's Barber Shop owner Keith Brazil confirmed for KDHL today he needs to be out of his location by the end of March.
He plans on re-locating just a few blocks away at 403 1st. Ave. NW In the Thibodeau Building.
A former barber shop used to be there. Lambert's Barber Shop.
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