Bemidji's federal building officially up for sale

113019.N.BP.BUILDINGS Federal Building
The federal building is located at 522 Minnesota Ave., in downtown Bemidji. (Pioneer file photo)

BEMIDJI -- The four-floor federal building in downtown Bemidji was set on the auction table last week.

According to a release from the General Services Administration, the online auction opened Aug. 27 with a minimum bid of $100,000 required. In a statement to the Pioneer, the GSA said no bids have been submitted yet, which is typical for this type of auction.

The GSA said open houses for the property are scheduled for registered bidders by appointment only on Sept. 16 and 29. In the months before the auction, local government units had an opportunity to express their interest in the building, but no entity showed interest.

"The GSA does anticipate the property will be sold via auction," the agency stated, "but if there were no bids, the GSA will hold the property and re-offer it at a later date."

The building, located at 522 Minnesota Ave. NW, was built in 1960 and originally used as a post office. In 1974, the 50,499 square-foot structure was managed by the GSA.


More recently, the building was home to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service. In 2018, though, the federal government announced its intent to have those agencies relocate and vacate the structure.

"This is an example of GSA's intent to remove properties that are no longer needed in the federal inventory," said GSA regional administrator Brad Hansher in the release. "By disposing of these properties, GSA will reduce our federal footprint and create valuable savings for the government."

Other than Bemidji, in greater Minnesota there are federal buildings in Duluth, Fergus Falls and Fort Snelling. In the Twin Cities, Minneapolis has three federal buildings and St. Paul has one.

The GSA also manages federal border crossing facilities in Baudette, Grand Portage, International Falls and Warroad.

Minnesota is in the GSA's Great Lakes region, which serves federal agencies by managing 985 properties in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

In the region, the GSA stated that it has successfully sold, via public auction, other properties similar to the one in Bemidji. One example was a U.S. courthouse in Hammond, Ind., and the other was a federal building in Alpena, Mich. In both instances, the properties were converted to residential uses.

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