City seeks developer for 2 bldgs.

Published 9:54 am Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Albert Lea city officials are formally seeking a qualified developer for the downtown Freeborn National Bank and Jacobson buildings.

City Manager Chad Adams announced Monday at the close of the Albert Lea City Council meeting that the city has issued what is known as a “request for qualifications.”

Through the request, city officials hope to sign into an exclusive agreement with a developer to prepare a redevelopment plan for the buildings, 201 and 211 S. Broadway Ave.

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Adams said though the city has had a number of developers show interest in the buildings in the past, the request for qualifications and the selection of a developer will be a more enterprising way to get the buildings occupied.

The city issued the request through a list of prospective developers in the area and metro region that public adviser Springsted Inc. had on file, he said. It was also sent to local prospective developers who have previously shown an interest in the project.

The city will accept responses until Aug. 3 and is slated to make a selection of a developer by Aug. 17.

The Freeborn National Bank and Jacobson buildings were originally constructed in the 1920s but had been vacant since 1995, according to the city directory. However, the National Vitality Center in June opened an office at the back of the lower floor of the Jacobson building, and earlier this month Prairie Wind Coffee opened as a coffee shop in the front half of the lower floor.

The remaining areas of the two buildings remain vacant and have not been remodeled.

They were purchased by the city for $75,000 on April 19, 2001, out of concerns that they might be lost. City officials hoped the buildings could be the key to revitalizing Albert Lea’s downtown business district.

In 2006 and 2007, the city invested almost $2 million for the exterior renovations of the bank building, at the corner of Broadway Avenue and William Street.

The paperwork filed by the city states future improvements that need to be completed by a developer include replacing electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems and installing fire sprinklers, among other improvements. The remaining interior demolition would also need to be completed.

“The completion and reoccupancy of the buildings is a primary objective for the city in maintaining a vibrant downtown and preserving the city’s cultural heritage,” the document states.

People with questions about the request should contact Adams at 377-4330 or

If people want to tour the buildings and the surrounding downtown, they should contact Albert Lea Economic Development Agency Executive Director Dan Dorman at 373-3930 or