Editorial: Tribune Thumbs

Published 8:51 pm Friday, July 15, 2022

To the city of Albert Lea’s pilot project underway to get tax-forfeited properties back on the tax rolls.

The Albert Lea City Council this week approved advertising a request for proposals for the sale and development of 1039 S. Broadway, the first of three tax-forfeited properties the city hopes to save through a new program. 

Instead of demolishing all of the tax-forfeited structures it obtains, the city is repairing major structural issues on the three properties worth saving, using the money it would have spent on demolition costs for the repairs. 

After the repairs are made, the city is turning the properties back over to the private market and selling them at fair market value. Once sold, a developer could do further updates, such as painting, flooring, kitchen or other updates, and then sell or market the property for use. The city cannot make money on the sales, and the cash loss would be equal to or less than demolition costs. 

With the improvements completed on the first building, we are eager to see how this property plays out and if the repairs are enough to increase interest in it by someone in the private market. 

The city already budgets a pot of money each year toward the demolition of blighted structures in the community. Instead of the city spending the money it has budgeted to knock down every structure, we hope this project pays off, gets these properties back on the tax rolls and also allows more buildings to get fixed up and ultimately used again — for housing or commercial uses. 

We have been impressed with the ingenuity of city staff who came up with this idea and we look forward to seeing how it pans out. 

If these first three properties go well, the city might proceed with more in the future. 

To the candidate forum scheduled for July 28.

Thanks to the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee, which is organizing a candidate forum for July 28 with candidates running for City Council Ward 6, Freeborn County Board of Commissioners District 2 and Freeborn County sheriff.

These candidates will be participating in the primary election Aug. 9, which is right around the corner. 

The forum will hopefully allow the public to see the candidates think on their feet and get more insight into how they would operate if elected to the positions. 

We encourage people to attend the event if possible to help you make an educated decision in the voting booth. 

The forum will start at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 221 E. Clark St. 

To the new food truck plaza being planned off of East Main Street near the channel.

We are excited to see the plans moving forward for a new food truck plaza at 804 E. Main St. on city property next to the channel between Fountain and Albert Lea lakes. 

Food trucks have taken off in recent years in Albert Lea, and this will give people another opportunity to support these vendors in the community. 

In addition to the popularity of the food trucks, we are also pleased because this will beautify a part of one of the city’s main roadways, making it more attractive to both city residents and visitors.

Plans call for 20 parking stalls along the southwest side of the property closest to the current Subway property with a multipurpose concrete pad next to it that would accommodate three mobile vendors with electrical hookups. Southeast of that and also closer to the channel would be green space with picnic tables and an outdoor games and event space. 

A future phase includes a nonmotorized watercraft launch access along the back of the property.