216/218 Central Ave.

This downtown Faribault building, owned by Darrell and Luella Jensen, has long been a sore spot for city officials. Now, with support from Faribault’s Economic Development Authority, the situation could start to improve. (File photo/southernminn.com)

Among the Faribault Economic Development Authority’s most successful initiatives is the Downtown Commercial Rehabilitation and Exterior Improvement Program, intended to preserve and enhance economic activity in the historic downtown district.

The program provides building owners with deferred loans covering up to 75% of basic maintenance costs up to $15,000. Loans can be forgiven after five years so long as the building is retained by the owner.

The EDA approved assistance for three projects on Tuesday, including a loan that will cover 50% of the costs needed to cover basic repairs of a downtown building that has become a sore point for city officials in recent years.

The historic building at 216/218 Central Ave. has been owned by Darrell and Luella Jensen for more than five decades. Over the last 15 years, a series of near-constant struggles between the Jensens and the city over the building’s maintenance have taken place. While the building remains structurally sound, according to a report from architecture and engineering firm ISG, its foundation is in such poor enough shape that scaffolding has had to be installed to prevent pieces of the facade from falling onto pedestrians below.

Economic Development Coordinator Samantha Markman noted that because the building is technically two adjacent properties, the project could bypass the $15,000 cap and be eligible for $18,050 in assistance, or 50% of the project cost.

Dave Hvistendahl, who represents the Jensens, said that the work would take care of the most pressing issues identified by a report from Larson Engineering, supporting the crumbling facade and correcting structural deficiencies.

Once the initial work is done, Hvistendahl said that a much larger, more expensive project would take place to restore the front of the building. He promised that once all work is complete, the issues with the building should vanish.

“It’s a 100-year project,” he said.

Hvistendahl’s own building, the former Peterson Art Furniture Co. at 416/418 Fourth Street NE received awards, thanks to its multiple addresses. The EDA awarded a loan of approximately $15,500 for the project, or 40% of the total project cost.

As part of the project, Hvistendahl will install eight new windows on the third floor of 28 Fourth Street NE building, home to Corks & Pints, and construct two new openings on the 405 NE First Ave. building, home to 10,000 Drops.

Hvistendahl has said that the new windows and doors are just the beginning of changes he plans to make to the complex he’s owned for more than two decades. In the short term, his plans include a heated outdoor seating area and new patio.

The third project to receive funding is developer Todd Nelson’s project to transform the former Masonic Lodge building on Central Avenue downtown into apartments. Projected to cost roughly $1 million, the project has already received around $300,000 in assistance from the city.

At approximately $13,500, this latest round of support for Nelson’s project is much smaller, covering 20% of the costs of a roof replacement. Nelson said he hopes that the entire project will be complete by next spring, with the roof repairs coming much sooner.

Reach Reporter Andrew Deziel at 507-333-3129 or follow him on Twitter @FDNandrew. © Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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