By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN What to do with the former Xcel Energy building, located at 10 Bridge Avenue West, was on the minds of Delano City Council members Tuesday night.
Several city officials admitted completely changing their thoughts on the future of the building, which was purchased by the city in March in an ongoing flood mitigation effort.
The primary purpose of the city’s purchase of the building is to extend the city’s levee to protect the west side of Delano from high water from the Crow River.
“It’s one of the most exposed areas the city has for flood areas,” City Administrator Phil Kern said.
The north side of the building has been removed, and the levy will be extended as planned this fall, according to Kern. Now, the question remains on what to do with the remainder of the building.
The original intent was to remove the building, fill in the site, and preserve the area for future redevelopment, Kern said.
At a previous meeting, it had been discussed that perhaps the building could be repurposed for something to benefit the community.
A proposal has been brought forward to “flood-proof” the building by gutting the interior, patching several holes in the roof, and installing several overhead doors, thus turning the structure into a community building that could be used for farmers markets, dances and music events, sporting activities, or other events.
While there would be electricity at the building, there would not be running water or restroom facilities. It was noted several portable toilets could be brought on site.
The site would still remain available for future redevelopment, according to Kern.
An agreement would be negotiated with the Delano American Legion for parking if the facility would be used for events. Kern said in exchange for sharing the Legion parking lot for events at the building, the Legion is interested in working with the city for assistance in helping resurface the parking lot.
A low bid was received from Ebert Construction for $94,516 to these modifications to the building, with about $35,000 of that being reimbursable from the State of Minnesota for flood-proofing activity.
Council Member Jack Russek, who said he originally wanted to save the building, now said he is not in favor of sticking any money into it.
Additional discussion took place on demolishing the building versus repurposing it.
Mayor Dale Graunke said he originally was favorable to tearing it down, but now is interested in saving it for use as a community building.
The council tabled action on the matter, wishing to take another look at the property and discuss options further at an upcoming work session.
History of the building
Built in the early 1900s, the building has housed the Delano Auto Company (prior to 1930s), Bonstrom Chevrolet and Zwick Chevrolet (1930s-1950s), Wallish Chevrolet (Sept. 1951-Sept. 1970), Rouston-Hitchcock (Sept. 1970- June 1971) Rouston Chevrolet-Oldsmobile (June 1971-August 1980).
Following its history of housing car dealerships, the building housed Western Gas Utilities and eventually Xcel Energy.