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Bemidji City Council to consider agreement with Sanford, Greater Bemidji for Rail Corridor development

During a special meeting Monday, the Bemidji City Council is scheduled to hear a presentation regarding a proposed agreement with Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota and Greater Bemidji Economic Development to work together in exploring the feasibility of development in the Rail Corridor.

City of Bemidji web art .jpg

BEMIDJI -- A presentation on a potential partnership to advance development in the Rail Corridor will be given to the Bemidji City Council during a special meeting Monday evening.

The Saint Paul Port Authority will introduce an agreement bringing together the city, Greater Bemidji Economic Development and Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota. The agreement comes after Greater Bemidji and Sanford approached the city about using the area as a site for a new wellness facility.

The agreement would define roles for the city and the two partners, while also setting how much each party would pay for needed work at the site. Required work in the area includes a physical assessment of the site, the financial impact of a wellness center and the overall feasibility of such a project.

Additionally, geotechnical and environmental analysis is needed, as well as an updated cleanup plan for approval from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The latter work is needed as the corridor was once an industrial site, including a coal gasification plant.

Engineering and analysis work, which is also needed for grants from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and other applicable grants is estimated at $219,036. Analysis of needed earthwork and site improvements, meanwhile, comes to $84,274, for a total of $303,310.

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For all the preliminary work, should the agreement be approved, Greater Bemidji and Sanford would pay 50% and the city would pay the other 50%.

The corridor itself is south of the city’s downtown district and has been sought after by several developers who have expressed interest in the site over the last decade. The area extends from the Mississippi River to Park Avenue Northwest and is bordered by existing railroad lines.

The area is now owned by the city, as it was purchased in 2003 for utility work.

Rail Corridor Redevelopment
Concept art of the Bemidji Rail Corridor shows potential redevelopment for the area, which is located by the Great Northern Depot in downtown Bemidji. Submitted concept art

Rail Corridor Redevelopment
Concept art of the Bemidji Rail Corridor shows potential redevelopment for the area, which is located by the Great Northern Depot in downtown Bemidji. Submitted concept art

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