City eyes old school district headquarters

by Kurt Nesbitt
Contributing Writer
Elk River city officials discussed the possibility of the city buying the Elk River Area School District office building on King Street.
The council heard from an Otsego real estate agent, who, according to Mayor John Dietz, already has a purchase agreement for the building but is reportedly still entertaining two other potential buyers apart from the city. The agent met with the council at its work session Monday night.
The school district is asking $899,900 for the 14,190-square-foot building. It vacated the 38-year-old building after the Elk River Area School Board decided 3-2 in February to buy and renovate the former Minnesota School of Business building off Highway 169 and 193rd Avenue in Elk River so the district could have all of its administrative offices in one space. The district bought the building for $4.2 million and renovated it for about $1.5 million.
Dietz said he wanted the city to hear about the property so council members could decide whether or not the city should pursue buying it. He said he is concerned about the possibility that a potential future client, such as an in-patient clinic, might have on the downtown business district. He said the 50 parking stalls on the 1.5-acre site might help the city’s downtown parking. Dietz said the building could also house the Elk River Chamber of Commerce.
But before any official action will be taken by the City Council, the city’s economic development and housing redevelopment authorities would have to discuss the property – and the council would have to consider it at its regular meeting – before the city could move ahead with any purchase, Dietz said.