The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 10, 2012

EDA to seek $1.1 million DEED grant for Front Street project

By Amanda Dyslin
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — The Mankato Economic Development Authority approved the drafting of a $1.1 million Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for Redevelopment Grant at Monday night’s meeting, the next step in the process of redeveloping a block of south Front Street.

The $15.8 million project would transform the Miller Motors and Red Sky Lounge area with a multi-story office tower, a five-story retail and apartment building, and a parking ramp. Mankato development firm Tailwind Group is hoping to start construction on the project in the spring.

The authority will review the grant application in January. The deadline for the application is Feb. 1, said Paul Vogel, director of community development.

“What it does is it lifts up a whole area,” said Charlie Hurd. “It’s just the sort of thing that South Front needs.”

Going through mockups of the project, City Council members, acting as the Economic Development Authority, asked developers various questions ranging from green building practices to alley access for vendors.

The office six- or seven-story tower, on the corner of Riverfront Drive and Warren Street, would bring a new business to town that would employ about 30 people with another 100 or more employees in the building coming from local businesses that relocate there.

Another five-story building would be built along South Front Street, where Miller Motors and Red Sky Lounge are located. Those two buildings would be razed. Red Sky would locate in part of the first floor of the new building. Three floors of the building would feature 15 upscale apartments.

A pedestrian walkway would run between the new building and Pagliai’s Pizza to a parking ramp to be located behind the five-story building and adjacent to the office tower. A piece of land on the corner of Riverfront Drive and Cherry Street is slated for a possible future tower.

In addition to the ramp, a surface parking lot on the corner of Front and Warren would require removing two small buildings. Tailwind owns the building that was home to a longtime antique store and is working with the owner of the adjacent Survey Services building.

The final plan for the project should be ready in January, including lease agreements and financing agreements from the developer.