4/16/2013 2:57:00 PM New buyer proposal
for old Kasson school rejected
By Tara Lindquist
Despite the efforts of local citizens, the old school in Kasson is still on schedule to be demolished.
Jeff Allman, of Allman and Associates presented the Kasson city council with a plan to renovate the old school into apartment and office space, during its meeting on Wednesday, April 10. The plan called for twenty-nine offices or apartments to be added to each floor, and an elevator to be added that would service the whole building. According to Allman, the cost of the complete renovation project would be $4.3 million.
After the council heard the proposal, the EDA was supposed to review the proposal. However, according to City Administrator Randy Lenth there is nothing new to review. "Their plan was embarrassing," he said. "There was absolutely nothing new presented to the council, it was the same project Sherman and Associates had presented." He emphasized the lack of the business and financing plan for reasons on why the proposal would not be reviewed further.
"The proposal we saw relies heavily on Federal and State Tax Credits," he said. "It also calls for about a quarter of million of funding from the city."
Lenth said at this time bids for demolition of the school will be opened on April 24 and the demolition project will start in June. "At this point the building has deteriorated badly and is becoming a blight," he said. "If we do sell the building before the demolition, it's going to have to be backed up by a major financial plan." He also stated the location is prime location for the city and the space could be better utilized if the building is demolished.
"For right now it may just stay a green space, but eventually it would be a great location for senior housing like the Sherman and Associates plan called for and could probably be done for a lot less than remodeling the existing structure."
Jeff Allman stated he would like to see the city work to preserve the structure. "From a preservationist stand point I know the building could be transformed into something that would serve the city well for generations to come," he explained. "I've been in the building multiple times and it is a sturdy building." Allman has handled multiple preservation projects in the past, both as a private real estate developer and through his business. "I've seen the success that projects like this can bring to a town."
A group of potential investors met Sunday, March 14 to discuss what their next step, if any, would be. There was no decision made and they continue to consider their options.