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Farmington EDA approves rehab grant for Fletcher building

The Farmington Economic Development Authority approved a $25,000 rehabilitation grant to cover half of some improvements, including a new roof on the aging Fletcher building in downtown where Heikkila Studios owns and operates a commercial photography studio. Kara Hildreth / contributor

Farmington Economic Development Authority approved a $25,000 commercial rehabilitation grant for the historic Fletcher building at Third and Oak streets in downtown Farmington.

The building owned by Pam and Doug Heikkil, a who operate Heikkila Studios. There are two apartments located atop the commercial business located at 349 Third St.

Adam Kienberger, community development director for the city, facilitated the EDA meeting and hearing for the grant approval.

"Staff has reviewed the application and worked in coordination with the building official and the Dakota County CDA staff to recommend approval of a $25,000 grant for necessary improvements to eliminate conditions detrimental to public health and safety," Kienberger said.

The grant program requires the applicant providing a one-to-one dollar match. It also mandates a competitive bidding that abides by the Davis-Bacon Wage Act that requires work on the project and contractors are paid prevailing wages.

The grant will pay for a new roof, some painting and brick repair. The grant amount of $25,000 means building owners must provide matching funds of at least $25,000.

The renovations will address several health and safety building findings, including replacement of the roof to prevent further damage and water intrusion, Kienberger said.

The Fletcher building is the oldest in downtown Farmington.

"We think it is a beautiful building and adds a lot of character to the downtown," said building owner Pam Heikkila in the grant application. "We are an established photography business and bring in clients from the Twin Cities, Rochester and many surrounding communities. However, being a ma-and-pa shop doesn't offer the revenue that a large company can bring in yearly."

Over the years, the building owners have invested heavily in upgrades internal and external to preserve the integrity and historic value of the building. Last year, they updated the awnings and the initial quote to update awnings on the entire building was $25,000.

The owners decided to put new awnings on the lower level. This year they noticed brickwork was falling down on the sidewalk.

The problem stems from the old roof shrinking like a swimming pool lining and bringing in the parapet wall, causing a bulge in the masonry along the back and north side of the building.

The immediate solution is to stop the water issues by installing a new roof. The grant will also cover minor repairs to paint the damaged brick.

"Ideally, we would like to hire the roof (to be done) by flat roof specialists, and we can do the painting of the building to maximize the prevention of further deterioration," Heikkila said. The owners plan to tackle the masonry work in the next few years.

Rosenquist Construction, Inc., from Minneapolis provided a base bid for the new roof at a cost of $42,000. The bid includes labor and materials with a 20-year warranty system. The bid covers the removal of existing sheet metal flashings, tearing off existing roof and hauling debris away while disposing of it in a state-regulated landfill.

The total projected cost for the whole roofing project is $58,750.

The final approval for the grant funding will move forward to Farmington City Council.

In the past few years, the EDA recommended the city allocate a portion of its Community Development Block Grant funds to allocate funds for the Commercial Rehabilitation Grant Program.

"The intent of the grant program is to prevent the deterioration of commercial structures and discourage blight, encourage projects that correct code violations and to eliminate accessibility restrictions," Kienberger said. "This program has been very successful in Farmington over the past several years and encourages local building and business owners to reinvest in public health and safety improvements in Farmington."

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