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From the Fergus Falls Daily Journal - moongoddess1968
From the Fergus Falls Daily Journal
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.”


3 comments or Leave a comment
laurapalmer813 From: laurapalmer813 Date: December 20th, 2006 09:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
that's good! I hope they can save it! I've seen pictures of the Kirkbride in Traverse City when it was abandoned, and it was pretty well trashed. If they could fix that one up, they can definitely do something with Fergus Falls!
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 21st, 2006 12:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh I sure hope so. I look at these buildings everyday and worry of what will happen to them. I sincerely hope that someone with the ability and the financial wherewithal comes forward to renovate & save these treasures. So many people take these buildings for granted...they have always been here. To think of losing them just makes me sick. I can't imagine coming onto the grounds and having ANY of them missing. I am glad the powers-that-be are checking into every avenue. Traverse City Hospital is so beautiful after the renovation. I go to their website every once in awhile and am always amazed at what can be done when people set their minds to it. Are you still looking forward to the 29th tour? I am sure hoping that the Nurses cottage will still be on the itinerary. There seems to be an awful lot of activity up there lately with the redevelopers checking out the property, etc. I hope the Friends of Kirkbride will still have access to it (I'm pretty sure they will, though). Anyways, see you on the 29th!
laurapalmer813 From: laurapalmer813 Date: December 21st, 2006 11:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm totally looking forward to it! =)
3 comments or Leave a comment