Businesses opening, on way

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 24, 1999

From staff reports

Two new area businesses opened their doors recently, and several others are under construction.

Wednesday, November 24, 1999

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Two new area businesses opened their doors recently, and several others are under construction.

Checkers auto parts, the third largest auto parts retailer in the United States, will hold a grand opening for its new Albert Lea store on Dec. 4. Manager Steve Reed has been pleased with local reaction to the store’s opening on Bridge Avenue.

&uot;We’ve been very well received by the community,&uot; he said. The Albert Lea store is the first Checkers auto parts store in Minnesota, Reed said, with others to follow in Austin and Fairmont.

Dave and Rachel Christensen have been operating their new business, Northstar Power Sports, from a warehouse while they complete work on a new 13,000 square foot building to house the business on E. Main Street near Motor Inn. They hope to completely move to the new facility within the next two weeks.

Northstar Powersports sells new and used motorcycles, ATV’s, snowmobiles, personal watercraft and clothing. It also features a service department with five working stalls.

The Christensens are building a coffee bar into their new facility so that people can &uot;Just come in, hang out, have a cup of coffee, pop, whatever,&uot; Dave said. They also plan to add unusual visual elements to the store, using track lighting, televisions and other features to make the store unique.

The Christensens hope to draw customers from the surrounding area as well as Albert Lea. Dave feels this is an expectation that the area can realize.

&uot;Albert Lea has been regional retail hub. A lot of people don’t realize that.&uot; He explained, &uot;Our location with the two interstates is a big plus, and I think that is going to come into play much more in the near future.&uot;

Doug Berven, General Manager of Sales and Development for Vernertz Investments, agrees that Albert Lea is an excellent place for development. He said that after looking over &uot;just about every town in southern Minnesota&uot; including Rochester, Austin, Winona and Mankato, his company decided to build a new Country Inn and Suites in Albert Lea.

Berven listed interstate traffic, the city’s wide industrial base and Mayo expansion as a few of the reasons his company chose Albert Lea to build a new 77 room facility. The facility is scheduled to be completed by July 1, 2000. It will include many two room suites and some whirlpool suites. It will also have a swimming pool and whirlpool, an exercise room and meeting room for up to 70 people. &uot;We think we have a very nice niche in Albert Lea,&uot; he said.

The motel will be on E. Main in the same area as Northstar Powersports.

And, Nelson Limited Partnership plans on working through the winter on their development at the intersection of Fountain and Bridge streets.

Chris Nelson said the complex will include a Texaco convenience store, a touchless car wash, and a strip mall and is scheduled to be completed in March, 2000. He said Nelson Limited Partnership already owned the land and felt these businesses would be good for the area. Nelson said that low interest rates have encouraged many developers.

&uot;That’s why we’ve seen such an increase in construction. It’s just such an intelligent time to build,&uot; he said.

Nelson said he has had a good experience working with the city on the project. He feels that, &uot;The key to working with the city is to let them know about your project early on.&uot;

Dave Christensen also had a positive experience with the city.

&uot;We just went to Paul Sparks to give them an idea of what we were thinking of doing and he said ‘How can I help you?’&uot; Chistensen said of the city. &uot;They’ve been extremely helpful.&uot;