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New RTC plan calls for hotel, restaurants (Fergus Falls Daily Journal, Minn.)

By Heather Rule, Fergus Falls Daily Journal, Minn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 07--By Heather Rule

Daily Journal

A historic hotel, a few new restaurants, dozens of apartments and various other amenities are part of the latest plan for the Regional Treatment Center.

Historic Properties Inc., a private real estate development company out of Georgia, shared its plan to redevelop the RTC grounds with the Fergus Falls City Council Monday.

Ray Willey, chief executive officer of Historic Properties, first came across the RTC while flipping through a magazine. He said he was simply amazed at the building.

"I thought, 'how could this possibly be a potential to be torn down?'" Willey said.

The solution from Historic Properties would include the conversion of the left wing of the RTC into about 50 apartments. The administration building would become a hotel/boutique and the existing dining hall would house five or six food venues, like a sports bar, coffee shop and pizza place.

Shared amenities between the apartments and hotel would include a pool, spa, health club and gymnasium.

"Almost like a park-like setting," Willey said. "I think the Kirkbride would lend itself to a development like this."

A hotel on the RTC grounds would also fit nicely on the list of Historic Hotels of America, Willey said.

Historic Properties would not operate the hotel, but Willey said they have been in contact with an experienced hotel operator who is interested in a hotel at the RTC. If the process moved forward without a hotel operator, Historic Properties would get everything else up and running, maintain the potential hotel area, and hope to get an operator later, according to Willey.

Historic Properties visited Fergus Falls earlier this month and received a tour of the RTC grounds. The company specializes in the acquisition and restoration of historic buildings across the country. Its mission is to create exceptional value while saving some of America's most treasured historic buildings.

The RTC redevelopment wouldn't be the company's first project. It recently renovated a century-old bank building in Oakdale, Calif. However, Historic Properties' past projects haven't been on the same level as the RTC.

"None the size of the treatment center, that's for sure," Willey said.

Even though dozens of developers have shown interest in the RTC property, what made Historic Properties stand out for council member Ben Schierer was the experience level.

"What's different about this one is they have a history of doing similar projects," Schierer said. "They'd been through this process."


(c)2013 the Fergus Falls Daily Journal (Fergus Falls, Minn.)

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