ALBERT LEA, Mn – “It’s good to see something being done with the buildings,” says Lisa Hanson.
Hanson is the owner of Prairie Winds Coffee in the bottom of Albert Lea’s historic Jacobsen Building.
She, along with many other community members, are buzzing about the news one developer brought them earlier this week. Two of their downtown buildings are about to be revitalized.
“Right now the community is just really excited about the opportunity that we have in front of us. You know, we haven’t had a developer really serious about this project and it’s real important to our community,” says Mayor Vern Rasmussen.
Clint Jayne of Kansas City, MO is that developer. He is planning on restoring the Freeborn Bank Building and the Jacobsen Building.
“I got a really good feeling from just spending a little bit of time visiting with him and I think he’s a really workable person and he’ll be a good one for this project,” says Hanson.
Right now, the plan includes converting the top 3 floors of both buildings to 21, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments. Rasmussen is hoping this will bring working people to their town.
“You know this will be a workforce development, so that means working-class people will have places to really find nice places to live within our downtown area, which is a real big draw for them right now,” says Rasmussen.
As for the bottom floors of the buildings, Jayne and the art center are in negotiations. What they’re looking at, is the possibility for the art center to use the area for display while making the space available for receptions and town meetings at the same time.
“It really seems that it’s important to him too that this community can have ownership in this main floor so that they can really enjoy this building,” Rasmussen adds.
As for the coffee shop, that will remain untouched and open for business, but Hanson is hoping to add something to future tenant’s paperwork.
“See what we think, we think on the application for the residents, that we should have a little spot on there that a prerequisite that their coffee drinkers don’t you think?”
Rasmussen tells us the paper work should be completed in the next couple of weeks. One major funding aspect of the project includes federal and state tax credits. If these credits are approved in the fall, the restoration is expected to begin in January of 2015.