The big unknown is just how much money it will take to purchase and do a major renovation of the 1896 Kasota stone post office building in the 400 block of
"I'm eager to see what creative people come up with. It could be a complete unknown coming in at the end and saying, 'Hey, I have an idea for this,' " said
"We know one possible avenue that's come up repeatedly is arts focused," Harriman said.
He said the partnership, a public/private group of civic and business leaders that focuses on improving the downtown, plans to get broad public input on possible reuses for the building.
"Performing arts could be an opportunity, a gallery space could be an opportunity. An innovation we've seen in a lot of communities is live/work arts space where artists can live in it and produce art," Harriman said.
"I think there are a handful of, hopefully local, developers who will take a run at it. It's a great opportunity for maybe a public and private partnership."
Anderson said the large chunk of property -- which takes up about three-quarters of a full block -- offers an opportunity to redevelop a part of the downtown that hasn't seen much change.
"There has been a preclusion to anyone doing anything in that area before," Anderson said. "It's such an integral part of our downtown."
"There are different groups thinking it could be broken into use for arts, maybe a performing arts center," Frentz said.
"I think the best use would be some kind of community use. I don't know if it will work. It's a huge building."
He said the fact the
Frentz said that if some type of nonprofit or private-public partnership doesn't happen, there will be developers who would buy the property to redevelop. Possible private reuse might include apartments, offices, shops or restaurant space -- and even space that could be leased to the
"Apartments might be good. That would seem an obvious use," Frentz said. "But I'm getting the feeling that's not what people want."
Any kind of nonprofit reuse of the building would require a major funding source.
"It's one thing to acquire it, it's something else to update it and operate it," Anderson said. "It will need some funding mechanism if a community group is using it."
Harriman said the
"We're not going to be spearheading redevelopment of a building, but rather setting a platform of what the best uses would be."
The sale of the post office will end a unique designation as it is one of the oldest post offices in the country still in operation.
Greater Mankato Growth, Envision 20/20 and the
Value hard to determine
"You would look at a replacement cost (for the building) and establish a land value. With a historical building like that it's a tough chore. How do you replace a structure like that?"
Siefkes said that appraisers typically look for similar properties in the area that have sold in recent years to help set a value.
"Ideally you'd find some comparable sale, but it's real tough to find one for a property like that. And there haven't been any downtown land sales without an existing structure on it, so it's difficult to even come up with the land price."
The value on the land is set at
Stalberg admits it's difficult to set a definitive value on a property such as the post office.
"We based it on a cost approach -- what would it cost to construct it (now) and then take age and things into account," Stalberger said.
"I wanted to know if they'd be interested in taking less than fair market, and I don't think so. I don't get that impression," Anderson said
"She made it fairly clear that she needs to get fair market value.
"They will come back in six months or more and say they're selling it, and I'm expecting there will be some bidding process."
No historical protection
The post office is listed on the
"There is no protection under the registry unless federal funds are involved," said
"You can buy it and tear it down, paint it pink or whatever if there's no federal funds involved."
"I hope they can make good use of it and that it doesn't get butchered up on the outside. It would be nice to see that monumental building stay as it is," Vetter said.
One thing he would like to see any future owner tear down and redo with
But commission member
"We can't dictate anything, we just make suggestions," Goodrich said.
The post office is not on the local preservation list and being on the local list requires the property owner to apply for it.
"Our local commission wrote a letter requesting the post office consider local designation. That would just be our community recognizing of the historical significance of it and ask that the owners take things for a review to the commission for any changes, particularly on the exterior," Goodrich said.
Hagen said he hopes the future owner of the property will respect its historical significance, particularly on the exterior.
"But we don't have a good history, so that's what scares you.
Hagen's comment about
Hagen said that while many historic buildings have been razed or marred in
"There would be an uproar in the community today."
Hagen said there was one ideal use for the building that could have been pursued years ago. "The perfect solution is
(c)2014 The Free Press (Mankato, Minn.)
Visit The Free Press (Mankato, Minn.) at www.mankatofreepress.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services