The Faribault Economic Development Authority has a lot of irons in the fire — from business prospects looking at the city to aiding residential developers.

At its Thursday meeting, Community and Economic Development Director Deanna Kuennen updated members on several projects. What follows is a synopsis of her report:

Farmer Seed and Nursery

THE EDA is working to redevelop the once bustling seed and nursery catalog that shipped plants from all across the country and world sits vacant at the corner of Fourth Street and Eighth Avenue Northwest.

According to the National Register of Historic Places, the stone and wood frame structure was constructed in phases between the early 1890s and 1920s. The building was placed on the Historic Register in April 1982. The stone portion was built in the 1890s and occupied by the Faribault Thresher Co. before it was purchased by Farmer Seed in 1899.

In a memo to the EDA, Kuennen noted that though the building is for sale “there has been limited interest, likely due to the condition of the building and the understanding that due to its placement on the National Historic Registry — there may be added costs associated with its redevelopment/rehabilitation/reuse. While it sits vacant, it is unlikely that the condition of the building will improve, but instead could continue to deteriorate due to neglect and reach a point where it can no longer be saved.”

After being asked to consider what “role they may play in clearing hurdles associated with potential redevelopment/reuse of the building,” the EDA decided in May to help fund an analysis of the Farmer Seed and Nursery building to determine its structural condition and what can be done to help redevelop the site.

On Thursday, Kuennen said she will draft an agreement with the owners of Farmer Seed and Nursery in which the EDA will get 2 percent of the sale of the property to offset the cost of the structural analysis. The EDA hopes that will increase the marketability of the historic building.

Apartments at former Mayo site

With less than a 1 percent vacancy rate in Faribault, the city has been working to attract residential developers. In recent months it’s heard from four developers interested in building apartments.

Three have gotten the council’s approval, but plans for the 924 First St. NE 78-unit structure have been met with resistance from nearby residents who don’t want increased traffic and density their neighborhood.

Every seat in the council chambers was filled with neighbors at the June 18 meeting. Only Councilor Elizabeth Cap was clear in her support. Four councilors — Tom Spooner, Peter van Sluis, Janna Viscomi and Jon Wood — said they couldn’t support the project as is.

Without council or neighborhood support, developer Nate Stencil was less than enthusiastic about continuing the project at the Mayo Clinic site — leaving the door open for another type of redevelopment. The site was rezoned after Mayo sold the land, a change that allows a number of uses that don’t require Planning Commission or Council approval. They include an ambulance facility, automobile sales, bar, nightclub, department store, discount store, dry cleaning establishment, firearms dealer, grocery store, tattoo parlor, laundromat and pawn shop.

The city is currently working with Stencil to find another lot in town where he can build the proposed apartment complex.

Cry Baby Craig’s

While the owners of a hot sauce company are eyeballing a Central Avenue site for a new manufacturing facility, EDA members want a lot more information before approving a $150,000 loan.

The sauce, Cry Baby Craig’s, is a recipe from chef Craig Kaiser, who in 2012 worked at a restaurant in south Minneapolis. Instead of tossing out a misdirected shipment of habaneros, he pickled them. The sauce gained popularity with friends and family, then customers, and then the public. It’s now shipped to all 50 states and hundreds of metro stores.

Co-owner Sam Bonin said Cry Baby Craig’s bottles 12,000 sauces a month by hand. New equipment, which the loan would cover, would automate the process and cut bottling time to where 2,000 bottles of sauce could be produced each hour.

EDA members on Thursday were concerned about placing a manufacturer in an historic district and whether it fits with the area’s retail atmosphere. They also had questions about sales projections over time and wanted supporting information from the applicants.

After reviewing the individual development loan proposal Thursday, the EDA agreed to form a subcommittee to meet with the applicants and flesh out the logistics of the loan before discussing the request further.

Reporter Renata Erickson can be reached at 507-333-3129. Follow her on Twitter @FDNrenata.

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