Below the flood wall, the river was high last week, as construction crews worked on the city’s Levee Park project. Construction is slated to wrap up by May 25, according to city officials.
60 Main St. still in negotiation
by CHRIS ROGERS
It has taken longer than expected, but Winona’s first big project to improve Levee Park is nearing completion. The “Levee Park + Main Street Gateway” project, which was originally slated to be completed last October, is now under contract to be done by May 25, according to city officials.
The park project will accomplish some of the things Levee Park planning committees have been asking for for years, including providing a more inviting entrance and an amphitheater with river views. The $2.4-million project was also pitched as an amenity to entice new investment downtown, particularly the 60 Main Street project next door. “If you have something like this in the schedule, it really raises the bar for what could take place in that parking lot,” ISG engineer Will Kratt told City Council during park project planning in 2016. “I really do think this investment in what we’re doing now is going to pay off in the 60 Main Street project and other projects downtown,” Mayor Mark Peterson said last year.
The 60 Main Street project is also taking a little longer than expected. After seeking out proposals from various developers, last spring city officials selected Minneapolis-based Sherman Associates’ plan to build an apartment-hotel complex on the city-owned parking lot just north of the Winona 7 cinema and started negotiating with the company over the details of a development agreement, including how much Sherman Associates would pay for the land and whether it would receive financial assistance from the city. At an event in Winona last fall, Sherman Associates Principal George Sherman said he wanted to have a development agreement in place by June 2018.
“I think we’re trying to get a development agreement in place this fall,” Winona Economic Development Director Lucy McMartin said in an interview last month. McMartin stated that she and city manager Steve Sarvi have continued to meet with Sherman and that he is still interested in the project. “We’re still in the negotiation phase,” McMartin said. McMartin mentioned that she spoke with Sherman after the announcement of the city’s new, big downtown development project: Bob Kierlin’s Main Square Community development at the former Hardee’s block. McMartin said that Sherman had a positive reaction to the news.
A spokesperson for Sherman Associates was not available for comment.
Farmers market starts new season at Midtown Foods
The Levee Park + Main Street Gateway construction project displaced the Winona Farmers Market last year, and the delay this spring required the organization to hold its first outdoor market of the season — this weekend — at the city hall and Midtown Foods parking lot. Winona Farmers Market Board President Sandy Dietz said the organization is still deciding whether it would try to move back to its traditional home on Main Street once the park project is finished or stay at the Midtown Foods site for the full season.
Whenever it does move back, Dietz said the redesigned block of Main Street should work well for the market. “Ultimately it looks like less space upfront, but a lot more space in the back,” she said of the street layout. “We’re excited about getting back to the old site, and I think the redesigned site will ultimately work,” she added. “You know, we were disappointed when we couldn’t move back right away. Midtown has been a good site, but it’s always hard on a market to have to move. Midtown’s been good to us, but I think most of our vendors are excited to get back.”
Riverfront purchases now total $2.9 million
Rock, LLC, the nondescript Indiana-based company that has been buying up property near the Rivers Edge condominiums, including the former Tri-Mac lumer site, just paid $1 million in cash for another riverfront property in Winona.
Rock, LLC’s, latest purchase is the Reinarts Stained Glass Studios building on Washington Street. The property sold for nearly triple its appraised value, and it brings the total amount Rock, LLC, has spent acquiring properties on that block to $2.9 million.
The company’s agent, Robert Weaver, has said he cannot disclose what the company’s plan are. “It’s something that will be very positive for the community. I’d love to be able to talk about it with you,” he said in an interview this spring.
“We’ve never seen anything like that downtown since I’ve been here,” Winona County Assessor Steve Hacken said of the eye-catching prices. “I think if you’re spending that kind of money on land, you must have a heck of a project behind it.”