Crow Wing County's building project is poised to be a cornerstone of new development in downtown Brainerd.
That was the consensus among the 23 people who attended Brainerd Restoration's annual meeting Tuesday at the Brainerd Public Library.
The meeting's keynote speaker was Gary Otterstad, Construction Analysis and Management executive director and construction manager for Crow Wing County's building project.
The $56 million project includes the construction of the Community Services Building, the Central Services Building, the Judicial Center and a jail. Improvements also will be made to the Law Enforcement Center, the Crow Wing County Service Building, the Crow Wing County Historical Society building and the current courthouse.
"This truly has been a labor of love," said Otterstad of the county project, noting he's never been involved in a construction project of this magnitude that was being done as fast. "It's something we're really proud of and I think there's a lot of other things that will happen because of this. The next 10 years are going to be exciting in downtown Brainerd."
"It's fortunate the county commissioners decided to put $50 million into downtown Brainerd," said John Erickson, Brainerd Restoration president. "Talk about an investment in the community."
Doug Grout, Brainerd Housing and Redevelopment Authority executive director, said the county's project led to engineering firm Short Elliott Hendrickson working with the HRA and Brainerd Lakes Area Development Corp. in constructing a two-story office building on South Sixth and Maple streets at the site of the former Mudford Plumbing building.
"Our downtown has such great potential, such a good base of businesses," Grout said. "Our downtown has such a great upside, and it's happening now."
The HRA also is considering other redevelopment projects, Grout said. The SEH building and other sites have been selected as tax-increment financing districts by the city of Brainerd.
Erickson noted other improvements are being made to downtown Brainerd to bring back the city's historic characteristics, including old-fashioned street lights along Laurel Street from South Second to South Sixth streets and banners featuring the city's logo.
Grout said the HRA is working with the Brainerd American Legion and Brainerd VFW in researching the possibility of the veterans' clubs jointly relocating to the site of Brainerd's former city garage at West Laurel and Southwest Fourth streets.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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