South shore, $13 million: City inks deal with ShoreQuest for 106 acres
The city of Bemidji plans to spend more than $13 million to purchase the property along the south shore of Lake Bemidji.
A purchase agreement with the largest landowner in the area, Shore Quest L.L.C., was signed Monday afternoon as the Bemidji Economic Development Authority agreed to purchase 106.48 acres for $11,770,000.
"We're moving ahead," said City Manager John Chattin.
Combined with the purchase agreements in place for three other properties, the cost of all 129.13 acres is $13,085,528.
The property, and the cost, breaks down as follows:
-- 106.48 acres from ShoreQuest for $11,770,000 (this includes $230,000 for 8.26 acres that was the Dean Schnell property, which ShoreQuest had already purchased).
-- 8.38 acres from Duane Sea for $300,000.
-- 5.04 acres from Joe Waslaski and Kris Klasen for $125,000.
-- 9.23 acres from North Central Door for $890,528.
"This is an investment in the legacy of our children's future," said Councilor Nancy Erickson.
With the land, the city of Bemidji and its residents will have control over what develops along the south shore, Erickson said.
"That's a good gift for our children and grandchildren," she said.
Councilor Ron Johnson emphasized the advantages of having the city buy the land. About one-third of the property is planned to be reserved for parks and trails, which will result in a lot of green space for the city, he said.
"It's a big deal for the city that we purchase this," he said.
Johnson said support and enthusiasm for the land deal is spreading throughout the community, even extending to some of those who might have originally supported a downtown location for the events center.
"We're seeing more of that excitement," he said.
Both Erickson and Johnson acknowledged that the city "can't afford" to maintain possession of all 130 acres.
The city plans to recoup some of the property costs through the sale of land to the Department of Natural Resources. The city also may consider selling land to private developers, who may be interested, for instance, in constructing a hotel near the events center site.
The DNR is considering parcels to protect the virgin, or untouched, shoreline on the eastern edge of the property, expand the Paul Bunyan Trail and develop parkland. Chattin said last week that the DNR is compiling figures and is expected to get back to the city.