Event to encourage efforts to preserve downtown

Published 9:59 am Tuesday, May 19, 2015

People interested in the past and future of historic downtown Albert Lea are encouraged to attend a preservation fair on Wednesday.

The event will include tours of more than 20 buildings, a vendor exhibition and two presentations for the public about the economic benefits of preservation and what grants and loans may be available for buildings there.

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

Organizer Jennifer Nelson, who works for the city’s Fire and Inspection Department, said the fair will be hosted by the Albert Lea Heritage Preservation Commission.

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“The idea was to get people to walk around and look at downtown,” Nelson said. “We wanted to get people to see what spaces are available in our district, to get in and be curious.”

She said the tour will showcase some buildings that have been completely restored, along with others that have not been renovated and that may need improvements.

Albert Lea has 114 properties in its commercial historic district, which is the largest intact commercial historic district in all of the state, she said. It covers portions of Broadway, Clark Street, William Street, Washington Avenue and Newton Avenue.

The commission hopes the event will raise awareness of the district and show people some incentives for preserving buildings there. Properties within the historic district are eligible for historic tax credits and city grants to fix up the fronts of the buildings. The city may also apply for between $600,000 and $700,000 in funding through the Small Cities Development Program for buildings downtown.

After the tours, there will be a vendor exhibition with architects, contractors, utility companies, financial consultants, electrical contractors, sign and design companies, among others.

At 4 p.m., city building official Doug Johnson will give a presentation in the Freeborn National Bank building about the economic benefits of historic preservation.

Following this presentation, at 6 p.m. representatives from Minnesota Main Street, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and the State Historical Preservation Office will give a presentation titled “Considering Main Street” in the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center.

“It’s helping people recognize what we have,” Nelson said. “For us it’s a valuable thing. If we can hold on to that.”

People with questions are encouraged to call the Fire and Inspections Department at 377-4340.


2015 Historic Downtown Albert Lea Preservation Fair schedule

• 1 to 3 p.m.: Open building tours, guided tours begin at Freeborn National Bank building at 1 p.m.

• 3 to 6 p.m.: Vendor exhibition, Freeborn National Bank building

• 4 to 5 p.m.: Presentation titled “Economic Benefits of Preservation” by Doug Johnson, building official for the city of Albert Lea, Freeborn National Bank building

• 6 to 8:30 p.m.: Presentation titled “Considering Main Street,” Marion Ross Performing Arts Center


Buildings available for tours

• Former City Hall

• Freeborn National Bank building

• Fisher’s Fine Jewelers

• Jacobson Apartments building

• Bessessen building

• Copper Kitchen

• South Central Youth for Christ

• Carnegie Library

• The Marketing Plant

• Nasty Habit

• Chinese Tea House

• Fountain Lake Condos

• Expressions Salon & Spa

• Knutson Building

• Sterling Drug

• Marion Ross Performing Arts Center

• Plymouth Shoe

• Community Cornerstone

• Essence of Yoga

• Brick Furniture

• 112 on Broadway

• 133 W. William St.