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Papers signed for purchase, rehab of ‘Barn Shed’ building in downtown Willmar

The building known as the “Barn Shed” in downtown Willmar has been used to store props and a workshop for the Barn Theatre. An agreement is in place to purchase and rehabilitate the building for development of local food-based businesses. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

WILLMAR — Documents were signed this week to finalize a partnership enabling the development of local food-focused businesses at a site in downtown Willmar.

The agreement between the Willmar Design Center and the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota will allow for the purchase and rehabilitation of the building known as the Barn Shed, located at 313 Fourth St. S.W.

According to a news release, plans call for turning the space into a center for businesses focused on local food. Backers believe the project has potential to increase the vitality of downtown Willmar and bring more people to the downtown district.

Several local businesses have already signed papers of their intent to lease space, and floor plans are under development. Next steps include securing financing from a number of stakeholders before closing on the purchase can occur.

A stakeholder campaign will be launched in April.

The Art Deco-style building, between Engan Architects and The Barn Theatre, is one of many older structures contributing to the history and character of downtown Willmar. It housed Thrifty Drug and Paffrath Jewelry before being acquired by The Barn as a production workshop.

The initiative to develop a new use for the space is the first project in Greater Minnesota being undertaken by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota through its Fix-It program, launched this year to bring about more positive preservation outcomes across the state.

The Willmar Design Center is a local nonprofit whose goal is to revitalize downtown Willmar and make it a destination for all. The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota is a statewide, private, nonprofit organization advocating for the preservation of Minnesota’s historic resources.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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