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State nominates Lakeland Hotel building for National Historic Register

WILLMAR -- The Lakeland Hotel building in downtown Willmar has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places by the Minnesota Historical Society's State Review Board. The Lakeland, constructed in 1927, was among 12 buildings from around the state that were nominated during the board's meeting Tuesday night in St. Paul.

The Lakeland was nominated by the Willmar Design Center. The nomination now goes to the keeper of the National Register for a final decision, which is expected sometime in February.

Design Center Project Coordinator Beverly Dougherty attended the meeting and said she was told that the state does not know of any time that nominations have passed the state level and were rejected at the national level.

Dougherty said a goal of the Design Center is to preserve and improve the building because it's the cornerstone and only remaining old-time hotel building in downtown Willmar. The building has not been used as a hotel for many years but has street-level retail uses.

Dougherty said the Design Center has received $20,000 in grants to pay an architect to develop preliminary plans and cost estimates to show the feasibility of creating market-rent apartments on the building's second- and third-floors.

Architect Richard Engan of Willmar, who was commissioned to do the study, said if the building is listed on the National Register, the developer would qualify for a 20 percent state income tax credit and a 20 percent federal income tax credit on all improvement costs.

"This will be a big tool to make this a very feasible project for a developer,'' said Engan. "This will give a developer information needed to develop the apartments, and tax credits will help the feasibility of it.''