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Company interested in downtown buildings

Development of the Freeborn National Bank building and Jacobson Apartments could come by a local company that expects to add about three dozen jobs in the next 14 months.

The Albert Lea City Council plans to discuss supporting an application from Mortarr LLC to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to develop the building. The company is a software start-up company established last July in Albert Lea. The organization is undergoing final beta testing and is expected to go live this summer.

“It is an imagery-driven and search-based website and app that serves as an inspiration gallery, networking and promotional tool for professionals, brands and end-users in the commercial construction and design industry,” said Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams.

The building would serve as the company’s corporate headquarters with plans to develop the spaces in phases. Mortarr is currently at The Marketing Plant but is looking for more space.

Phase one construction would be on the main floor and mezzanine levels to accommodate approximately 35 workstations, two conference rooms, a break room, two Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant bathrooms, a half-bath on the mezzanine, flexible work seating and lounge areas.

Additional phases of the project are expected to include demolishing and reconstructing each floor to keep pace with the company’s growth.

Mortarr expects phase two work to begin immediately following phase one, which is expected to begin by June 1 and be complete by the end of October.

The company has grown to a team of 15 and is projected to add 37 full-time employees by June 30, 2019, Adams said.

“All phases of the project intend to maintain the historical integrity of the building while abiding by or exceeding all code and life safety requirements,” he said. “Staff will be working on a possible purchase agreement as well as other loans for the business in coming weeks.”

Mortarr is expected to request an award and/or rebate from the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Job Creation Fund Program.

Freeborn Development Group submitted a plan to develop the building into a hotel, but the group decided to withdraw its plan after a pro forma study was completed.

Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen Jr. said the city still needs to work out details of the plan to ensure it will work for the community and the company.

“We’re looking at higher-paying jobs,” he said. “It’s going to be high-paying jobs that are really going to change our community.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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