Editorial: Interest in site suggests good end to struggle

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 28, 2002

It’s easy to get excited about the possibility that a new Ford distribution center will be located in Albert Lea, and the prospect is another hint that the city and surrounding area may come out of the Farmland fire better off than before.

The site being considered is one that had been reserved for Farmland’s new plant, an outcome that seems less and less likely with each passing week. Coupled with recent news that the city is on the verge of taking possession of Farmland’s old site and finally getting the damaged plant demolished, news of serious interest in the city’s ready-to-develop land suggests that good things are to come.

Of course, there are still two other communities in the running, so it’s too early to say anything for sure. But Ford’s interest is an example of the kind of opportunity the city’s possession of such prime real-estate offers.

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The set of events that started when Farmland burned caused plenty of pain among the plant’s workers and those who drew economic benefit from the plant. But at the same time, the city’s quick action to secure the Habben site for a new Farmland plant and its ability to (probably) work out a deal that will give it possession of the old site could turn out to be positives that outweigh the negative effect of the fire. If not for the fire, it’s questionable whether the Habben site would even be in city hands at this point.

The fire has forced Albert Lea, to a certain extent, into a transition period. If that transition works out well, two key properties in the city could wind up in much better shape than they were before. Even if one or both of these exciting developments don’t pan out, we can now see more clearly the potential that lies in both properties, and that may be inspiring enough to ensure a positive outcome.