Electronic Billboard

An electronic billboard located just north of the Faribault KFC displays an ad. The Faribault City Council has approved a plan to allow Daikin to post a state-of-the-art electronic billboard next to Interstate 35. (Suzy Rook/Faribault Daily News)

The Faribault City Council has approved plans to put up a state-of-the-art electronic billboard along Interstate 35 and tear down the old public works building in anticipation of the construction of a new apartment complex.

The new apartment complex is the city’s latest attempt at developing the site located off of First Avenue, north of the American Legion. Due to the old public works site’s history as the city dump, new development would require significant cleanup in addition to the removal of existing structures.

Last year, the city terminated a preliminary agreement with developer Kevin McMenamy of KPM Enterprises to bring an outdoor recreation facility to the site, complete with kayaking, bicycling, a high-ropes course and kayaking, finding that McMenamy violated its terms.

In January, the council selected Coldwell Banker Commercial/Fisher Development group as a new development partner. The Mankato-based commercial real estate group has proposed a five-story, 96-apartment complex similar to the Heritage Bluff Apartments, located just a few blocks south of the proposed site.

On Tuesday, the council paved the way for the project to go forward, accepting a bid from Faribault’s own BCM Construction to raze the existing buildings at the site for a cost of $26,300. This portion of the project is expected by the end of September. The council also moved to rezone site from industrial to commercial. A public hearing on the zoning change was first held July 15. It will go into effect on Friday.

The council also approved two requests from Daikin Applied to enable the company to put up a pair of oversized signs. One will be an informational sign posted outside of Daikin’s existing facility at 300 24th Street NW to enable truckers to more easily find the proper entry locations.

The more prominent of the two will be a state-of-the-art LED sign manufactured by Daktronics, a South Dakota-based firm that has manufactured scoreboards at U.S. Bank Stadium and other prominent athletic facilities. Daikin will post the LED sign along southbound I-35, so that travelers coming from the Twin Cities will hardly be able to miss it.

Instead of selling advertising slots, the company plans to use the sign to advertise its job openings at its Faribault facility. Last year, Daikin announced a $40 million expansion project at its Faribault facility that is expected to add 132 jobs.

In other business

The council approved a liquor license for the Cancun Grill. The new Mexican restaurant is expected to open soon at 24 Fourth Street NW, the site of the former El Rancho Restaurant. El Rancho’s liquor license was suspended Nov. 3, 2016 due to the failure of restaurant owner Jenaro Paz to pay liquor taxes to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, and the restaurant subsequently closed.

On June 9, the city of Faribault received a License Clearance Certificate from the Minnesota Department of Revenue, stating that all debts had been paid and Paz could apply for a new liquor license. Paz’s new restaurant will seek to bring authentic cuisine to Faribault.

Finally, the council voted to fund new paint and carpeting for the library. According to librarian Delane James, most of the library’s interior has not received a paint job since the library was remodeled in 1994. At the library’s request, the council accepted a bid of $50,715 from Faribault’s Roehrick painting to repaint the entire library, save for the third floor Makerspace and certain staff areas which have recently been repainted. The library will remain open during the project, although some areas may need to be blocked off.

Similarly, the library’s carpeting has not been replaced since 2008. With roughly 500 patrons visiting the library each day, the carpeting has begun to show significant wear and tear. At the library’s recommendation, $122,123.76 was allocated to replace the library’s aging carpeting with commercial-grade carpet tiles from Hiller Commercial Floors. In order to minimize disruption, work will take place after regular hours.

Reach Reporter Andrew Deziel at 507-333-3129 or follow him on Twitter @FDNandrew.

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