Sept. 11, 2006

Dassel to buy A+ Sports and Marine building for liquor store, possibly community hall

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The Dassel Municipal Liquor Store is entering a purchase agreement to buy the A+ Sports and Marine building along Highway 12.

The city council decided Tuesday that because the lease is running out on the liquor store’s current location, and the 13,000-square-foot steel marine building is a much better deal than buying the 3,000-square foot building the store is in now, it is time to act.

The City of Dassel intends to get a 15-year $700,000 bond and pay for the bond with revenues from the liquor store, according to City Administrator Myles McGrath.

“This property seems to provide a great deal of potential,” McGrath said.

Council Member Brad Lalim agreed. The 2.8-acre property already has parking space available, the unused portions of the property can be sold or used for other purposes, and it’s a prime location, he said.

Mayor Ava Flachmeyer particularly liked the property’s exposure to Highway 15, she said.

The marine building, owned by Stuart Turnbull of Darwin, also includes a 7,800-square foot pole building in the back. Liquor Store Manager Marvin Vetsch said he estimates he only needs 6,000 square feet for the store and 1,000 square feet for storage at the most, so the rest of the property can be used for other purposes.

It would cost about $70 per square foot to build a new store, Vetsch said.

Also, expanding the current store, which the city rents from Howard Page of Dassel, would be expensive because the back of the property used for storage is a different elevation than the front, Vetsch added.

Heating, cooling and electricity might cost more in the marine building because it is larger. Payroll, the biggest operating cost, will probably remain the same, though, and labor less intensive. The store’s current location is crowded and cluttered. Merchandise has to be stacked on top of other merchandise, and then later unstacked to make it available for customers, he said.

Council Member Bob Lalone asked Vetsch if moving to a larger building will require stocking more inventory or display fixtures, but Vetsch said he didn’t think so. The vendors provide most of the display fixtures for free. The current building hasn’t been utilizing the free displays because there’s no space for them. Also, customers are more likely to buy a product they can see easily, than one for which they have to hunt or ask a clerk, Vetsch said.

One of the uses the council discussed for the part of the marine building not holding the liquor store is a community room. The city could set it up for caterers to provide food for a wedding reception or banquet. It would not include a kitchen, McGrath said.

The council also discussed using part of the marine building for the fire department. Council Member Brad Lalim, who is a Dassel firefighter, was not keen on that idea, though, he said.

The marine building is not as centrally located as the current fire department is, which is accessible from all four directions, Lalim said.

Lalim said the fire department is interested in purchasing the green house on the corner of First and Atlantic Avenue.

The Minneapolis woman who owns it is offering it to the fire department for about $115,000. She has had other offers but wants the fire department to have first crack at it, McGrath said.

Eventually, the fire department would like to get the Mason building next door. Firefighters plan to use the additional property for offices, meeting rooms, training, and their number one concern, fast access to parking space for firefighters responding to emergencies, Lalim said.

The Mason building has several historically important architectural features, however, since it once was Dassel City hall, the jail, and the fire department, McGrath said.

While the city irons out how to get the Mason property, firefighters could park on the lawn of the green house and rent the house, which is in good condition, McGrath said.

Lalone thought the city’s plans for the fire department were too vague, he said, so council members will wait two more weeks. Then the fire department can make more concrete plans, before it decides whether to buy the green house.

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