When it comes to the Northfield Armory, the personal significance is monumental for Jonathan Reppe.
His father, who passed away last year, was in the National Guard and while at St. Olaf College, was called to duty during the Korean War.
When Reppe’s mother was going through Reppe’s father’s memorabilia, she found the original letter he received telling him to report to duty. It asked that he first report to the Northfield Armory.
That letter will soon be framed in the Northfield Armory following the announcement that the Department of Military Affairs accepted Reppe’s offer to buy the building.
According to Don Kerr, the executive director of the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs, as required by law, the Armory was posted for sale for three weeks.
Last week, the lone bid was opened − it was Reppe’s.
Though the offer was accepted by the adjutant general, the terms of the offer are not public until there is a finalized purchase agreement, Kerr said.
Reppe said he received the confirmation letter in the mail on Monday, and a draft purchase agreement will follow.
The plans for the building, which includes a brewery, went before the Northfield City Council earlier this year. After initially asking the council to act as the conduit, the investors, made up of Reppe, his wife and the proprietors of Imminent Brewing, changed their minds and asked the council to let it go to the open market.
In February, the city council made the decision to pass on the building, as did the Rice County Board of Commissioners.
Randy Clay, a proprietor of Imminent Brewing, said each time the group reaches a milestone, another one is on the horizon. For Imminent, one of the future milestones is purchasing the garage portion of the Armory from Reppe.
The future of the armory will unfold in a five-phase approach, which includes a community kitchen, brewery and taproom, event space, office space and a residential space.
In letters provided to the Northfield City Council at previous meetings, it was indicated that Imminent’s project, including the purchase of the garage, renovation, construction, equipment and working capital, would be more than $700,000.
Once the closing occurs, which could be 90 to 120 days out, the crew hopes to have building permits in hand to get the remodel underway as quickly as possible.
“I’m hopefully optimistic that we will be able to get in there Aug. 1,” Reppe said.
“We’re really excited about what is next,” added Laura Meyers, of Imminent Brewing.
Clay said he and the rest of the Imminent crew are hopeful that they can be open by next spring.
And if they’re able to get into the building by Aug. 1 as Reppe hopes, he said that by Jan. 1, about 60 percent to 75 percent of the building will be ready to go.
“Various parts of it will be open for business at various times,” he said, of how the project will unfold.
The crew is also hopeful that the property owned by First National Bank of Northfield on the corner of Sixth Street and Division Street will be part of the plans.
“We’re really thinking that space would be an added gem to the project,” Reppe said. “It would allow for an entrance to the basement on the Sixth Street side and [would provide] an opportunity to do outdoor events.”
That, he said, would be the cherry on top.
Rick Estenson, vice president of business development at First National, said there have been conversations, but nothing to this point has been resolved.
So as the investors continue to forge ahead, Reppe is excited to turn a piece of Northfield that is close to his heart into something the community benefits from.
But he knows he is not the only one who cherishes the building, and he hopes members of the community come forward with stories of their own.