Local Trio might restore Vault building

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 12, 2003

The city has owned the Vault/Freeborn Bank building on Broadway Ave. for the past two years. Since then, not much has happened to the building. A few months ago a group came and helped to clean it up a little, but for the most part, it has sat empty.

But three local citizens Scott Knutson, Greg Jensen and Tom Throlson, are looking to put some life back into the building.

The three have joined together to try to renovate the building.

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&uot;We’ve all been looking at the building for a long time,&uot; Jensen said. &uot;It’s a beautiful building, but it’s in rough shape. We hope that we can accomplish something to revitalize the downtown.&uot;

City Manager Paul Sparks said that the city would likely sell the building to the trio for $1, take the asbestos out of the building, replace the roof, replace the parking lot next to the Hanson building and fill in the vault which goes beneath the sidewalk and replace the sidewalk.

Sparks said he didn’t know how much those improvements would cost yet.

The city would also make requirements for the buyers as well, Sparks said. One thing would be a guarantee of a certain dollar amount invested into the project, which would likely be $1 million or more. Another is that the owners would stay in compliance with the any code set by a historic district, such as building facade and windows.

Projects like these have taken plenty of time, and in some cases, haven’t turned into anything. In the early 1990s one local man bought the Lea Center building, lined up city investment, but never came through.

Sparks said that the city has confidence in the new group.

&uot;I wouldn’t be concerned,&uot; he said. &uot;They have demonstrated an ability to perform.&uot;

Knutson did a renovation project on what is now known as the Knutson Building, on Newton Ave. between Clark and William streets, restoring

the facade of the building, even repainting old advertisements on the


Jensen, who owns Power 96, a local radio station, said that his partners bring construction savvy angle to the project. Throlson works for Total Lock and Glass, and Knutson has shown skill with his building project.

&uot;I’m not a brick and mortar guy,&uot; he said. &uot;They both have good knowledge about what needs to be done in terms of structure, windows and other aspects.&uot;

He didn’t disclose how much money would be put into the project, but did say &uot;it will cost a lot of money.&uot;

Sparks said that the building would likely be used for retail, offices and apartments.

Jensen did not go into detail on what their plans are for the project.

The trio can submit a letter of intention to the city that they want to pursue the project, then they have 120 days to study the

project to see if they’ll go further.

&uot;If everything works out, we’re in it for the long haul,&uot; Jensen said.