Armory Square ownership needs further discussion, City Council decides
By Anna Erickson
Park Rapids City Council members are doing their due diligence before deciding whether to pass a resolution to move ahead with discussions of possible city ownership of Armory Square.
The council again asked for more specifics before it could vote.
The council met in its role as the Economic Development Authority Tuesday night for a special meeting about Armory Square.
Aaron Chirpich, Development Director with Headwaters Regional Development Commission, presented a request on behalf of Armory Square.
He proposed that the city pass a resolution approving a redevelopment plan for Armory Square.
The resolution asks the city to take a broad acceptance of the plan as a “general model for such development.” It also says that city staff would be authorized to work to pursue funding from the state and that the agreement is conditioned on a completed agreement, loan approvals and state bonding.
Chirpich reminded the council that the clock was ticking at the state level as legislators work on the bonding bill.
Legislators are talking about including the project in the bonding bill but the Armory would need to be publicly owned in order to receive state funding.
Councilmembers were concerned about taxpayers being hit if the project failed.
“I don’t feel comfortable putting taxpayers on the hook,” said Mayor Pat Mikesh.
“I couldn’t agree more,” councilwoman Erika Randall said.
There is no guarantee that the retail spaces would constantly be filled and bringing in revenue to pay for the rest of the building, she said.
Councilman Dave Konshok said a lot of financial questions are still unanswered and he wants to know some of those details before making a decision.
Councilman Rod Nordberg said that he was comfortable with some of the numbers presented. He didn’t see that much risk with passing the resolution, he said.
Paul Dove, representing the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council, is in favor of the project moving forward and said the city would just be taking a step toward a final project with the resolution.
If certain conditions aren’t met the city doesn’t need to move forward.
However, Mikesh said he would be concerned with backing out after receiving state funding. It might look unfavorable for future funding, he said.
The council tabled the resolution and asked city staff to work more with the Armory Square representatives and return in two weeks with more information.