Longtime building finds new life: Several companies now utilizing space in former Streater building

Published 10:00 am Monday, February 26, 2024

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About a year and a half after a group purchased the former Streater building in Albert Lea, the building is now being utilized by multiple businesses and organizations.

Noel Eggebraaten, president and managing partner of the ownership group, 411 1st LLC, said the about 330,000-square-foot building has multiple functions: as a warehouse distribution center for some, a manufacturing site for others and office space for others.

“My vision was to make this a community building,” Eggebraaten said. “Within 15 months, we have surpassed my expectations, both in the quality of our tenants and the volume of space that’s now filled.”

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While about 95% of the space is full — at the height of seasonal storage — there is still available warehousing, manufacturing and industrial space. There is no more office space open.

He said the owners went through a long process to get a portion of the office space designated through state and federal codes as a nursery for Head Start.

Other portions have been updated to make food-grade warehouse and operations for Interstate Packaging, which is now a division of Green Bay Packaging, and food-grade operations with the United Way of Freeborn County’s Welcome Pantry, and they had to update their crane system so ALMCO could operate and do fabrication for its Panels Plus business.

Eggebraaten said the owners are thrilled to be a part of the ongoing support of the Welcome Pantry and the support that United Way gives for that.

“They’ve been great to work with,” he said. “We all share similar values as far as finding ways to give back to people in the community.”

There’s also Black Iron Manufacturing, which he said has consolidated from New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and other locations in Minnesota to Albert Lea and has operations that run from 7 a.m. to midnight.

Budget Blinds is a new tenant, and the owners also work with Albert Lea Seed on a seasonal basis for warehousing based on the growing season.

There’s also Infinite Recycled Technologies, which is anticipating having a new piece of equipment built in Europe shipped to Albert Lea in the first or second quarter.

A small entrepreneurial startup company uses about 1,000 square feet, and Grace Transportation utilizes about 4,200 square feet in the truck service building. Eggebraaten said the company is one of the only 24-hour transportation companies in the region for working with the handicapped and getting people to and from their doctors appointments. The owners put in a new furnace, plumbing, lighting and cleaned up that area so this company could have a space to put their vehicles, so they could pick people up in a warm vehicle.

They have also stored boats, pontoons, cars and motorcycles.

“We as a building have it staffed in a way to serve the tenants and make sure everything’s operational year-round,” he said.

He said the mission of the investors, which include both a few former Streater employees and others from outside of the community, is to be a part of their tenants’ success stories.

“We try to help them to be as successful as they can be, to offer them the kind of space they need and minimize their overhead costs.”

Five of their tenants have requested room for expansions of their space, which he said tells about the need for growth and also the fact of how devoted they have been in helping them expand in reasonable ways.

“We’re just excited that we can be part of the growth of Albert Lea,” Eggebraaten said. “That building that’s been a mainstay for 80 years has new life.”