by Jim Boyle
Elk River Area School District administrators didn’t know how hard it would be to sell the former district office, but it appears it might not be that difficult.
Within a week of the property being listed, “we had several interested parties,” according to Greg Hein, the school district’s executive director of business services.
“I was surprised,” Hein told the Elk River Area School Board at its July 24 regular meeting at Elk River City Hall.
He came before the School Board to seek authorization to continue negotiations on one or more purchase agreements, subject to legal review, with the intent of bringing one or more final purchase agreements to the School Board for action at the Aug. 14 regular meeting.
Hein said at the meeting the district is entertaining two offers.
“We wanted to give you an update as to where things are at,” Hein said. “Obviously we’re not going into specifics about the amounts or the buyers because it is protected data.”
The District 728 School Board gave the administration unanimous support on a 5-0 vote with one abstention for moving ahead with negotiations.
School Board Director Joel Nelson was absent. School Board Chair Shane Steinbrecher abstained, as one of the potential buyers is a client of his, according to a district official.
The potential sale of the downtown Elk River building has captured the attention of the Elk River City Council and its boards and commissions.
Council members considered a temporary suspension of downtown redevelopment as it relates to zone changes and conditional use permits, but did not go down that road. Instead, council members directed City Attorney Peter Beck to explore the issue.
One thing that sparked the city’s interest was talk of an “outpatient clinic.”
City officials talked about not wanting to hurt the school district’s ability to sell the property, while at the same time ensure that downtown Elk River businesses appreciate their new neighbor when all is said and done.
Ryan Hardin of KW Real Estate said his firm is pleased with the decision from city not to move forward with the moratorium at this time.
“It leaves the door open for development not only for the property we currently represent but also the other properties throughout the downtown district,” Hardin said.
Hein said Monday that there are two interested buyers they are working with.
Hardin told the Star news on July 27 they have received multiple offers but cannot comment or provide details with regard to those offers.
“The former district office site is a tremendous opportunity for prime Elk River real estate in the heart of our community,” Hardin said. “This well-maintained building boasts high visibility with excellent access. We are excited to be a part of the growth and development of downtown.”
Superintendent Dan Bittman announced during the meeting that the “new” District 728 Office is open for business. It’s located at at 11500 193rd Ave. NW, Elk River.
“While there is much unpacking and organizing to do, the one-stop office will be an amazing resource for our families and communities,” he said.
In addition to providing general support for students, families and staff, the office will be home to the school district’s Compass Program, which serves some of the district’s 18- to 21-year-old students.