Article by Chris Giesen
The City of Stewartville, led by the city Economic Development Authority recently sold the downtown property located at 102 Main Street, commonly known as the “Start Building” to Rochester developers Nels and Nicole Pierson. The building is home to the Stewartville Star newspaper, has had residential tenants in the second floor apartment, and provides some storage for a third renter.
The City purchased the building nearly ten years ago as part of a downtown revitalization project. There was another adjacent building to the south which was demolished. The “Star Building” was to meet the same fate allowing for additional green space downtown. For various reasons the plan did materialize and the city kept leasing the building to the Stewartville Star and other tenants. After advertising the building for sale without any buyers, the EDA began to discuss options.
“The EDA really thought outside of the box to complete this project,” said Chris Giesen CEDA Business Development Specialist and EDA representative to Stewartville. “The amount of TLC needed to fix this building and pay the purchase price seemed to be a little too much for most buyers,” he continued. “But the EDA started talking about what the goals were concerning the building, and they decided that they had an opportunity to do something very positive with a highly visible building downtown.”
The EDA decided last October to advertise the property for sale “for as low as $1,” and requested any interested parties submit proposals to the EDA by the deadline. Their goal was to reduce the purchase price so that a private developer could restore the building to its historical character and encourage similar investments from neighboring building owners.
After reviewing proposals, the EDA recommended that the City accept the proposal from the Pierson’s. The City and Pierson’s negotiated various securities and the sale for $1 was complete in early March. The Pierson’s plan for the building includes restoring the exterior’s historical appearance including replacing windows and restoring the front and side façade. On the interior, they look forward to working with the existing tenants, while making improvements to the office space and restoring the historical detail that had been previously covered up. The Pierson’s plan to remodel the residential space into an upscale loft while using the historically significant aspects of the building. The Pierson’s recently completed a similar historic commercial property renovation with a similar building in downtown Rochester.