RED WING -- On the night Keller-Baartman’s request for purchase was approved in March, there were two others interested in the Jefferson School site.

Those two got their second chance to pitch to the Red Wing School Board on Sept. 3 about why their plan should be selected.

Due to an overwhelming amount of information, board members voted 6-1 to discuss the possible Jefferson sale at their Sept. 16 meeting, giving themselves and the community some time to think about the choices.

The two presenters were given 10 minutes to speak, then were asked questions by the board.

Valley View Recovery Center

The first presenters of the evening were Jacob McGuire and Tori Utley, proposing a low and medium residential treatment center for substance abuse.

McGuire, the CEO of Valley View Recovery Center and co-owner of Common Ground, and Utley, a representative, spoke about Goodhue County's need has for an inpatient treatment facility. The county currently doesn’t have a treatment facility like this, forcing anyone needing this type of treatment to be outsourced elsewhere.

Jefferson would house 54 adults — 27 men and 27 women — with 24-hour supervision and care. People receiving treatment would undergo mental health treatment, assistance when finishing their stay at the facility in finding housing and a job, and learn other skills to help with their sobriety. The facility would not allow violent or sex offenders.

Superintendent Karsten Anderson asked McGuire if residents could come and go as they please. McGuire said there is a system in place to see if that would be viable or not.

To be admitted to the facility, a comprehensive admission and screening process would be conducted. Stays at a facility like Valley View are usually 90-120 days, according to McGuire and Utley.

Valley View presented the board with three offers:

  1. Purchase the property for $400,000, then sell park land to the city of Red Wing after the purchase has been completed.

  2. Purchase the property for $318,000 and donate 1 acre of greenspace for the park use to the city.

  3. Partnering with the School Board and city, create a single purchase agreement to parcel the property before the sale, where the board would sell one parcel with the building to Valley View and the second parcel with park and greenspace to the city.

McGuire said it’s the center’s goal to be a “community partner,” working with the appropriate state, county and city officials to help themselves and the area flourish.

In the presentation materials, letters of need were included from Judge Douglas Bayley, Goodhue County Social Services Supervisor Abby Villaran, and the Goodhue County Health and Human Services Board.

Eric Spagenski, the CEO of Gateway Program in Red Wing, had a letter of need included but also used the public comment time to advocate . Kate Olmsted, the Goodhue County Drug Court coordinator, also spoke during public comment time to advocate for the need in the community.

“Minimal changes” would be necessary to Jefferson, according to McGuire. Likely some bathroom renovations would be needed, but nothing that would severely alter the building. Utley also called Jefferson a “perfect location.”

Jim Patterson

The second presenter of the night was Jim Patterson, a local business owner. Along with Patterson was Tracy Gadient, the general contractor for the project if it was approved.

Patterson proposed a 16, two-bedroom apartment facility for Jefferson for $300,000.

Patterson remarked on the Jefferson block’s historic nature, saying his goal is to preserve the building as best as possible. Like many families in the area, Patterson said he and his family enjoy bike rides around the area and want to make sure it stays family friendly.

“The school is an anchor to the neighborhood,” Patterson said. “I think the people have a lot of fond memories of the school and really think it’s an important thing that it remains to be a quality place where people have good association.”

In his presentation, Patterson also said his plan would collaborate with the school district and city to transfer ownership of the playground area.

A garage structure would be added to the block, according to Patterson, who said it would one long string of garages on the backside between the school and playground. Patterson said in his proposal that he will need to know the costs of renovation .

“I am a business person and the numbers have to work,” Patterson said.

Patterson would like up to 90 days to determine Jefferson’s financial feasibility, working closely with Gadient and his crew. However, Patterson said it wouldn’t necessarily take 90 days.

During the question-and-answer session, board member Holly Tauer asked where Patterson is at in the financing process. Patterson said financing isn’t the issue, rather if they can get the project finished that would coincide with the projected $900 per month of rent.

Patterson roughly guessed the renovation cost would be around $1.5 million.

Board Chair Arlen Diercks said there is a need for an apartment building like this, saying it’s difficult to build and establishing housing like this for a low rent like Patterson is proposing.

Board member Jim Bryant said he’s concerned about the 90-day request, saying as a board they’re ready to make a decision.

Patterson reiterated it wouldn’t necessarily take 90 days and the reality of any project takes time to get figured out.

“We understand that there’s a carrying cost to this building and you want to be done with it,” Patterson said. “We completely get that. If this goes forward, you’ll have it off your hands by the first of the year hopefully.”

Pending decision

The board voted to delay any decision until the Sept. 16 meeting. Board treasurer Mike Christensen was the only member to vote against the motion. Christensen did not state during the meeting why he voted against it, but after the meeting he spoke to the R-E and said he would like to reopen the request for proposal process.

Christensen said he was impressed by both proposals, but said board members owe to the community to get the best deal they can get.

“I would prefer to have more options,” Christensen said.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. Sept. 16 in Red Wing City Hall.