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Granite Falls City Council considering saving downtown building slated for removal

GRANITE FALLS -- The Granite Falls City Council will take proposals from developers interested in saving a downtown building otherwise slated for removal under the flood mitigation program.

The council agreed Monday to accept requests for proposals until Jan. 14, 2009, from any parties interested in flood-proofing the former Korthuis Jewelry building, City Manager Bill Lavin said.

The city is also offering part of the funding set aside for demolishing the building to be used for flood-proofing, provided a developer provides up-front funding for improvements and signs an agreement approved by the city.

Nicole Richter, director of the Granite Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, presented council members with a petition containing more than 100 signatures from people supporting the idea of saving the building, also known as the Berge building. The city had budgeted $150,000 to demolish the building and construct a retaining wall at the site. The building is in the floodplain along the Minnesota River. To flood-proof the building, a developer would have to remove all utilities from the lower level, raise the first floor and make other improvements.

Patrick Moore, of Clean Up our River Environment, told the council that the structure could be flood-proofed and continue to provide space for commercial activity in the city's downtown.

Lavin said the city is requiring that a structural engineer inspect the building prior to approving any proposal for saving the building.

Korthuis Jewelry has moved its business one block north to a newly redeveloped downtown building called Prentice Place.

In other business, the council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would allow the city to charge property owners for costs incurred by police when responding to repeated nuisance complaints. A second reading is needed before the ordinance is adopted.

The council also approved a $3,000 donation to the Doctors for our Communities group for its efforts to recruit and retain health care professionals.