Fergus Falls leaders want more details on developer's plans for historic Kirkbride property
By Jacob Tellers / Fergus Falls Pioneer Journal The city of Fergus Falls is seeking more details on financing and plans for the proposed $41-million development project of the historic Kirkbride property before moving ahead with the project. Pros...
By Jacob Tellers / Fergus Falls Pioneer Journal
The city of Fergus Falls is seeking more details on financing and plans for the proposed $41-million development project of the historic Kirkbride property before moving ahead with the project.
Prospective Kirkbride developer Ray Willey and his development group will have until Oct. 23 to submit the rest of the financial documentation that has been requested by the City Council. The former Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center – which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 and officially closed in 2007 after decades of moving patients – could have 70 apartments, an upscale hotel, five restaurants, a culinary academy, a fitness center for residents and guests, and a community workshop space for artists if Willey’s plan comes to fruition.
A special session is scheduled Oct. 27 to determine whether to move forward with the project.
Willey joined Monday’s City Council meeting via speakerphone. He claimed a city official told him he would get about $4 million from the city for the project.
Attorney Kent Mattson denied – as did Mayor Hal Leland and the City Council – that anyone from Fergus Falls made that offer to Willey.
“Some of the things you said just weren’t true, and that I don’t like,” Councilman Jay Cichosz told Willey over the phone.
Despite the tense moments, Cichosz reiterated his support for the project.
“I would love this to succeed. I don’t want the Kirkbride torn down if we can avoid it,” Cichosz said.
He said the issue is the details.
“I like what you have given so far, but you have given us a lot of propaganda stuff,” Cichosz said. “But you’ve been really light on how you’re funding, and where the money is coming from.”
Willey said his group is still short $700,000. He has asked the council to contribute that amount to the development, arguing the city stands to benefit even more than the developers.
Several other council members were concerned about the lack of details provided by Willey in his development proposal.
During public comments, more than a dozen people spoke about how they want the project to go through, but many also said the process needs to be more open.
After a closed session, the council reopened the meeting and voted unanimously to give Willey until Oct. 23 to provide financial information.
Some Fergus Falls residents offered their thoughts on the meeting once it was over.
“It’s kind of embarrassing to both sides to even have that kind of exchange,” community member Jake Krohn said. “Having a more open process instead of these closed meetings of an indeterminable nature might help eliminate this.”