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Downtown Farmington liquor store options cut to two

This location is one of two options the city of Farmington will consider for the future home of its downtown liquor store.

Now comes the time to weigh pros and cons.

At a May 29 workshop, Farmington City Council members narrowed to two a list of potential sites for the downtown municipal liquor store. In the coming weeks, they'll pare that list down again to just one.

One of the two preferred sites - the current location in the City Center mall off of Elm Street, or a vacant site at the Tamarack Ridge Center to the east off Highway 3 - could be chosen as soon as the June 11 city council work session.

Council members aren't ready to own a liquor store building yet, city administrator David McKnight said, but they are still intent on staying in the liquor business.

"They didn't want to get into ownership of a building just yet. They want to turn the corner financially before they take that step," McKnight said.

That means the city will continue to lease space for a liquor store. Both of the spaces under consideration are available for lease; the question will be which one will better serve the city's needs.

Currently, the city pays $21 per square foot for space at the City Center location. The landlord has offered a temporary decrease to $20 per square foot for the city to stay in that location until council members decide what to do with the downtown store.

The city has also received a quote of $9.50 per square foot in the first year of a five-year contract if the store moves to Tamarack Ridge Center. That amount will increase by 50 cents a year, to reach a rate of $11.50 per square foot in the fifth year.

But there is more to the decision than just the dollars. While Tamarack is cheaper, there would be costs associated with getting the site ready for a city-run facility. That includes extending the city's fiber optic cable to that location.

The City Center location would not need any build out, and it's already set for fiber optic. McKnight is waiting to see if the owner comes forward with a lower rent offer.

"We're also looking to see if we can become smaller if we stay in that current location because we have too much space over there," McKnight said.

McKnight met with the Tamarack representatives late last week, and was going to meet with the City Center owner this week. Once he has all of the information he needs, he'll bring the details to the June 11 workshop for direction.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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