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Fergus Falls, Minnesota Monday, January 22, 2007

Friends of the Kirkbride welcome 1000th visitor

By Susan M.A. Larson



Thousands of residents passed through the doors of the Regional Treatment Center during its heyday. Although no longer a treatment facility, the curious still walk the RTC’s halls during the Friday afternoon tours led by the Friends of the Kirkbride; last week, the group welcomed its 1,000th tour participant, Pat Miranowski of Breckenridge.

“I was just interested in the old hospital,” Miranowski said. “I’d heard a lot about it.”

For his achievement, Miranowski was presented with a certificate of appreciation and a photo of the campus.

“It means a lot to us,” Maxine Schmidt, Friends of the Kirkbride founder, said. “We’ve been trying to find a reuse for the facility” and raising public awareness is one avenue to achieve this.


Friends of the Kirkbride is a grassroots group of citizens whose mission is to protect the Kirkbride Campus in its entirety. After people started asking to see the buildings in 2005, Schmidt said, permission was granted by RTC administration to give free public tours. Leading them is Friends of the Kirkbride member Emery Johnson. A volunteer services coordinator and community relations coordinator at the RTC from 1965 to 1991, Johnson’s knowledge and personal stories of the campus bring its yesterdays back to life.

“I thought the pictures on the walls were interesting and how long it took to build it,” Miranowski said.

Overcrowding at the St. Peter and Rochester state hospitals prompted the state to begin construction of the Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center in 1888. The design of the main building followed the architectural concept of Dr. Thomas S. Kirkbride, a 19th century Pennsylvania physician and mental health pioneer.

“The architecture of the buildings is really impressive,” Miranowski said.

Kirkbride designed the center section of his buildings to be higher than the wings. The center was to serve as the administrative area of the facility and included kitchens, offices, a reception area, visiting rooms, a lecture room, chapel and staff apartments. The main building, also known as the tower building, is the only structure on campus where the original color of the brick can be seen.

“All of the buildings have value,” Schmidt said. “They are just magnificent buildings. We plan to keep giving these tours as long as they allow us and as long as people approach us.”

Hawthorne Development, Fargo, is interested in the nurses cottage for multi-unit housing/condominiums. Jeff Schlossman Investments, Fargo, is interested in the buildings formerly occupied by the Department of Human Services, the Fergus Falls School District, Early Childhood Family Education and Catholic Charities for use as office buildings. The city recently took ownership of these buildings from the state for $1. The developers will purchase them from the city.

To arrange a tour, call Schmidt at 736-5328.

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Fergus Falls, Minnesota Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Finalizing RTC sale will cost city $1,050

By Susan M.A. Larson



The city, which became owner of five Regional Treatment Center Buildings Friday, could spend $1,050 to tie up loose ends on the purchase.

As part of the acquisition, city utilities must be extended to the nurses cottage, which is currently on the state utility system, Attorney Kent Mattson, Kirkbride/RTC project consultant, said during the city council meeting Tuesday.

To make the extension, an easement must be acquired from the Minnesota Veterans Home, as the water lines run through its property, which was originally state land. The city agreed to this and to pick up the legal costs up to $550 if necessary.

The city will purchase Incinerator Road from the state to allow access to the cottage for $1 and pay legal costs, which Mattson estimates will be less than $500.


Hawthorne Development, Fargo, is interested in the nurses cottage for multi-unit housing/condominiums. Jeff Schlossman Investments, Fargo, is interested in the building formerly occupied by the school district and department of human services for use as office buildings.

Before the sale can be finalized, the developers must do an appraisal on the buildings. If the buildings are not developed, demolition will proceed.

The 1,000th person is slated to tour the RTC Friday afternoon, according to Gene Schmidt, representing the Friends of the Kirkbride.

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Fergus Falls, Minnesota Thursday, January 11, 2007

Michigan facility transformed with incentives and vision, giving rise to a hopeful future for RTC

By Susan M.A. Larson



Like disciples telling the masses of the miracles they have witnessed, Economic Development Commission Director Harold Stanislawski and local businessman Rick Anderson told of the transformation of the Traverse City, Mich., Kirkbride campus Tuesday.

During a tour of the facility last month, Anderson and Stanislawski saw what is possible with development incentives and a vision. They presented a slide show of the tour to about 40 people at the library. Traverse City, they said, started out on a much rougher road.

The buildings were abandoned and unheated for 20 years. Roofs were not repaired, causing floors to buckle. Traverse City formed a commons board to take over renovation.

The campus was purchased by the city for $1 and sold to the Minervini Group in 2003, which is developing it. The Traverse City campus is on 64 acres, compared to Fergus Falls’ 114.


Renovations on the Michigan facility began about two years ago and now houses condominiums, stores, restaurants, offices and a school. The same thing is possible here, Anderson and Stanislawski said.

“It depends on the economic tools you have in your tool box, if we’re going to do here what they did there,” Stanislawski said. “Without incentives, it won’t happen. Special policies and programs will be needed to make it work.”

Traverse City created a renaissance zone for its Kirkbride. Developers are exempt from single business tax, state school tax, local property tax and the utility users tax for the first 13 years. Traverse City also secured two $1 million grants.

While great strides have been made in developing the Traverse City property, it will be another decade before it is complete.

“We toured it with hard hats and boots,” Anderson said. “Portions of it are still in bad condition ... The first thing they did was put a roof on to stabilize it.”

Slides featured the project through various stages, from untouched, to mid-project to completion. About 65 workers are working on it year-round, Stanislawski said.

“That’s what’s going to have to happen here,” Anderson said. “That’s economic development right there, when you can put 50 to 60 people on full-time.”

An audience member asked what a condo in the Traverse city facility cost. A 600 square-foot bungalow sold for about $65,000, Stanislawski said.

“I was impressed,” Steve Hoffarth, Fergus Falls resident said following the presentation. “Having seen some of the apartments at the Kaddatz and being impressed with those and now seeing this, — the possibilities are wonderful. If I had the need, I’d be glad to purchase one of the condos.”

“This is very exciting,” Julie Budke said. “I used to live in downtown Minneapolis and I loved living in a renovated building. It’s exciting to see old buildings have new flare. There’s just so much potential. It’s going to take a lot of talking and communication to do it , but I think it will happen.”

“I’m very confident (the nurses cottage) is going to be restored,” Anderson said. “(The developers) have a preservationist view of it.”

Hawthorne Development, Fargo, is interested in the nurses cottage for multi-unit housing/condominiums. Jeff Schlossman Investments, Fargo, is interested in the buildings formerly occupied by the Department of Human Services, the Fergus Falls School District, Early Childhood Family Education and Catholic Charities for use as office buildings. The city is set to take ownership of these buildings from the state for $1 next week. The developers will purchase them from the city.

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Fergus Falls, Minnesota Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Michigan facility transformed with incentives and vision, giving rise to a hopeful future for RTC

By Susan M.A. Larson



Like disciples telling the masses of the miracles they have witnessed, Economic Development Commission Director Harold Stanislawski and local businessman Rick Anderson told of the transformation of the Traverse City, Mich., Kirkbride campus Tuesday.

During a tour of the facility last month, Anderson and Stanislawski saw what is possible with development incentives and a vision. They presented a slide show of the tour to about 40 people at the library. Traverse City, they said, started out on a much rougher road.

The buildings were abandoned and unheated for 20 years. Roofs were not repaired, causing floors to buckle. Traverse City formed a commons board to take over renovation.

The campus was purchased by the city for $1 and sold to the Minervini Group in 2003, which is developing it. The Traverse City campus is on 64 acres, compared to Fergus Falls’ 114.


Renovations on the Michigan facility began about two years ago and now houses condominiums, stores, restaurants, offices and a school. The same thing is possible here, Anderson and Stanislawski said.

“It depends on the economic tools you have in your tool box, if we’re going to do here what they did there,” Stanislawski said. “Without incentives, it won’t happen. Special policies and programs will be needed to make it work.”

Traverse City created a renaissance zone for its Kirkbride. Developers are exempt from single business tax, state school tax, local property tax and the utility users tax for the first 13 years. Traverse City also secured two $1 million grants.

While great strides have been made in developing the Traverse City property, it will be another decade before it is complete.

“We toured it with hard hats and boots,” Anderson said. “Portions of it are still in bad condition ... The first thing they did was put a roof on to stabilize it.”

Slides featured the project through various stages, from untouched, to mid-project to completion. About 65 workers are working on it year-round, Stanislawski said.

“That’s what’s going to have to happen here,” Anderson said. “That’s economic development right there, when you can put 50 to 60 people on full-time.”

An audience member asked what a condo in the Traverse city facility cost. A 600 square-foot bungalow sold for about $65,000, Stanislawski said.

“I was impressed,” Steve Hoffarth, Fergus Falls resident said following the presentation. “Having seen some of the apartments at the Kaddatz and being impressed with those and now seeing this, — the possibilities are wonderful. If I had the need, I’d be glad to purchase one of the condos.”

“This is very exciting,” Julie Budke said. “I used to live in downtown Minneapolis and I loved living in a renovated building. It’s exciting to see old buildings have new flare. There’s just so much potential. It’s going to take a lot of talking and communication to do it , but I think it will happen.”

“I’m very confident (the nurses cottage) is going to be restored,” Anderson said. “(The developers) have a preservationist view of it.”

Hawthorne Development, Fargo, is interested in the nurses cottage for multi-unit housing/condominiums. Jeff Schlossman Investments, Fargo, is interested in the buildings formerly occupied by the Department of Human Services, the Fergus Falls School District, Early Childhood Family Education and Catholic Charities for use as office buildings. The city is set to take ownership of these buildings from the state for $1 next week. The developers will purchase them from the city.

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Fergus Falls, Minnesota Saturday, January 06, 2007

RTC meeting Tuesday at library




Fergus Falls Economic Improvement Commission Executive Director Harold Stanislawski and Rick Anderson, owner of the Midweek shopper, will present an overview at 7 p.m. Tuesday about the recent trip they made to Traverse City, Mich. The program will take place at the Fergus Falls Public Library meeting room.

Traverse City started renovating a facility similar to the Regional Treatment Center.

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Creepy bathroom in the Nurse's cottage Creepy bathroom in the Nurse's cottage
I first seen the inside of the nurse's cottage by searching the internet and having found a fellow LiveJournal poster's pictures. I was somewhat suprised at what the interior bathroom looked like. I thought the picture with the child in the bathroom was a little creepy. Now, I have my own creepy kid in abandoned bathroom picture. Here it is. I don't know...I just like it.

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Enjoyed the Friends of the Kirkbride tour today. I was a little disappointed that we couldn't see more of the building, but, of course, that would take far longer than the alloted two hours.

There is so much more to see of this building. Areas of particular interest to me are the more remote areas...the 3rd and 4th floor areas are especially decrepit and infinitely more interesting.

I'm glad I brought my kids. Derek was getting a little bored towards the end, but, overall, they are glad they went.

I added some more pics today. I'll continue to add pics as time goes along until I no longer work in this building.

It was good to meet my online acquaintance...very cool. I hope she got that picture she was looking for!

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Fergus Falls, Minnesota Friday, December 22, 2006

More than just a dollar, city must maintain RTC

By Susan M.A. Larson



Taking over five Regional Treatment Center buildings will not be as simple as the city handing over a dollar to the state, City Administrator Mark Sievert said.

An agreement struck between the state and city will require the city to maintain, insure and secure the buildings and pay closing costs. The state will be on the hook for heat, electricity, more than $2 million dollars to the city for costs associated with the RTC incinerator, and up to $3 million set aside for demolition.

“This is the perfect solution for all of us,” Wayne Waslaski, planning director with the Minnesota Department of Administration, said. “After the chemical dependency unit is relocated, all state programs will be off the campus and those will just be surplus buildings the state no longer needs to run.”

Hawthorne Development, Fargo, is interested in the nurses cottage for multi-unit housing/condominiums. Jeff Schlossman Investments, Fargo, is interested in the buildings formerly occupied by the Department of Human Services, the Fergus Falls School District, Early Childhood Family Education and Catholic Charities for use as office buildings.The developers will have an appraisal done on the structures, which is necessary for them to take title.


“That is the first set of numbers they need,” Sievert said. “After that, they can determine if the numbers are going to work,”

A sale between the city and the developers could be complete by the first half of 2007, he said.

Under the agreement:

By Jan. 12, the city will purchase parcel A (the nurses cottage) and parcel B (the other four buildings on the east side of the campus) for $1 by way of quit-claim deed.

“A quit-claim deed is just a simple way to transfer a title to a property,” Sievert said.

Property will be sold as-is. Prior to the closing date, if any or all property is destroyed, the state will not be required to make repairs.

The city will pay all closing costs.

“When we get (the buildings) from the state, the city will pay closing costs, like any real estate transaction,” Sievert said. “I have no idea how much it’s going to be, but since we’re not getting an actual mortgage, it won’t be quite as costly. But there will be recorder’s fees and things like that.”

That money will be taken out of the general fund.

“Of course, we’re going to do all we can to minimize costs,” he said.

The city will insure the property.

“We’ve talked with our insurance carrier and added the five structures to the list of buildings already on the city policy. The additional premium will cost $2,900 a year.

Security will be the responsibility of the city.

That task will not create any additional cost for the city, Sievert said, as the Friends of the Kirkbride volunteers, city staff and law enforcement will take care of security. For the volunteers, a checklist is being developed that they will recieve when picking up a key to the buildings.

Heat will be paid by the state until April 30 and electricity until May 31.

“We shouldn’t need to heat (the buildings) after that,” Sievert said. “Evern if we’re still working on selling it.”

If the city does not provide written notice of intent to acquire all of the RTC property by May 25, the demolition process can begin, excluding the five structures already spoken for.

If parcels A and B are not developed, demolition will proceed.

“We don’t know exactly when they will be torn down,” Sievert said. “You just don’t take down the buildings the next day; it’s a big project.”

Also under the agreement, the city will receive $1,760,000 for bonds it has incurred related to the RTC incinerator project; $400,000 for demolition of the incinerator; $447,000 reimbursement the city used of its own money for improvements to the RTC incinerator; and demolition funds.

“Over the last three years, we’ve put a plan in place to find a reuse for the RTC and this was part of the process,” Waslaski said. “I think this is a good solution for all parties. It lays the groundwork for the next phase of plans for the Kirkbride itself.”

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Article from the Fergus Falls Daily Journal today:

Michigan visit alludes to RTC’s future

By Susan M.A. Larson



Possibilities for the Regional Treatment Center are as expansive as the campus itself, Economic Improvement Commission Director Harold Stanislawski said.

Stanislawski, representatives of Jeff Schlossman Investments and Hawthorne Development and local businessmen spent Tuesday in Traverse City, Mich., touring its former Kirkbride campus. A closed mental health facility similar to Fergus Falls, it sat empty for two decades.

“It was in much worse shape than (the Regional Treatment Center),” Stanislawski said. “The bulldozers were there and people basically laid down in front of the dozers.”

A commons board endorsed by the city was formed to take the project over. It was purchased by the city for a dollar and sold to the Minervini Group in 2003, which developed it into a multi-million dollar Phoenix of sorts.


It was initially envisioned as senior citizen assisted living, “But when they realized that wasn’t going to work, they changed the zoning to mixed use,” Stanislawski said. “The people of Traverse City are happy. It’s already added about 98 new jobs. People are moving to the area from the outskirts of Traverse City proper to buy these condos. The goal now is to put as much on the site as they can to keep people there.”

To date, the former Kirkbride houses, among other things, condominiums, retail, a restaurant, coffee shop, art gallery, attorneys offices, architect and a private school. The tunnel facility will house retail in the future. The project is funded by the developers, help from Renaissance Zone (Michigan’s JOBZ), tax advantages, rent from businesses and condo sales.

“It was eye-opening,” Stanislawski said. “We met with the Minervini Group, the mayor, city planner and members of the commons board (similar to Friends of the Kirkbride). It’s still a work in progress, but substantial progress has been made already … The developers told us it’s been a long process with the city and the state to get everything accomplished. They figure it’s going to take another 10 years to complete, but they think they’ve finally turned the corner.”

Five RTC outbuildings have been purchased by Fergus Falls for a dollar. Funding has been secured to pay off incinerator debt and related bonds and to demolish the buildings if the developer do not purchase the buildings. The state will provide heat and electricity for the buildings, with the city will providing insurance and security. The city will take title in January. In the meantime, the developers are having a fair market appraisal done on the structures, which is necessary for them to take title.

“We can’t do everything (Traverse City) has done,” Stanislawski said. “But indeed, some things can be done ... If we do things right and if we can get the right tools, we can do something with the RTC. It gives me some encouragement.”

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Here is an article dated 12/06/2006 about the prospects for the Fergus Falls RTC:


Fargoans may save buildings
By Dave Olson dolson@forumcomm.com
Metro/State - 12/06/2006
Two Fargo-based development companies are looking to save several historic buildings on the campus of the Fergus Falls (Minn.) Regional Treatment Center from the wrecking ball.

For the projects to move ahead, the Fergus Falls City Council needs to decide soon if the city will assume title to the state-owned properties, City Administrator Mark Sievert said Tuesday.

Hawthorne Development and Goldmark Schlossman Commercial Real Estate Services have sent letters of intent to the city outlining potential new uses for the structures, which were once part of the Fergus Falls State Hospital.

Hawthorne Development, the company behind the rescue of the Northern School Supply building in downtown Fargo, is interested in turning the old nurses’ dormitory into a housing complex of 12 residential units, which would occupy the first two floors of the building.

A letter of intent signed by Mike Allmendinger, of Hawthorne Development, reads in part:

“The exterior of the building needs much repair, with further study we would keep the original integrity of the building and replace existing materials with materials that will have a similar aesthetic appearance.”

Doug Burgum, a Fargo-based senior executive at Microsoft, is a financial backer of Hawthorne Development.

A letter of intent submitted by Jeff Schlossman of Goldmark Schlossman outlines that company’s desire to create office space in four satellite buildings on the treatment center campus.

City Administrator Mike Sievert, who described the proposals as strong, said City Council members plan to discuss the letters Thursday at a special work session.

The developers are still researching infrastructure and cost issues, but Sievert said he’s hopeful concrete proposals could be ready by the end of the year.

Minnesota officials have told the city that Fergus Falls must take ownership of the properties soon to avoid demolition of the buildings.

Sievert said any transfer of ownership would come with an allocation of state dollars that could be used by the city to demolish the structures if development plans fall through.

If the city takes ownership of the properties, developers would have to pay fair market value for the buildings, with the funds going to the state, Sievert said.

The city is still seeking proposals for possible uses for what is known as the Kirkbride building.

The complex, which has been called an architectural treasure, was constructed in the late 1800s and served as the centerpiece of the Fergus Falls State Hospital.
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