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Airport land assessed at under $4.5 million

The airport's worth and future is the discussion coming to the Detroit Lakes City Council, Becker County Board of Commissioners and Airport commissioners.

Last month, City Council Alderman Ron Zeman asked for the values of airport property to help determine if the airport land would be more valuable as an airport or sold off as retail.

According to the county assessor's office, the airport sits on five parcels of land: The largest is 164.90 acres, valued at $2,677,300 total. That breaks down to $957,000 for land and $1,720,300 for buildings on that acreage. The smallest acreage is 8.21 acres, valued at a total of $671,400.

With the five parcels added together, the 266.96 acres that is the airport is valued at $4,468,400 -- $2,206,200 for land and $2,262,200 for buildings.

It was pointed out last month that the figures are what the land has been worth in the past, but not what it could be worth if sold for retail and commercial development.

Alderman Leonard Heltemes said those figures are low as far as he's concerned -- extremely low. Having some experience in real estate, he said he estimates the property to be worth four times that amount.

Zeman agreed that the land could be worth $32-$50 million, saying selling the land to develop would benefit the three entities scheduled to meet.

Alderman Bruce Imholte stressed those numbers are purely "opinions" and no feasibility study on actual value has taken place.

"If we're going to sit down and determine the future, I'm in support of a feasibility," he said.

Resident Dave Brainard said last year he talked to a company out of the Twin Cities responsible for bringing large businesses -- like Wal-Mart or Menards.

"Research said the only place to put (those businesses) in DL is the airport (land)," he said.

He added that Zeman's estimates of land value as commercial is "very much in the ballpark."

He said one of the Menards' out lots is selling for $5.75 per square foot.

"I'm all for this if we can get Kohls and Target," Alderman GL Tucker said with a laugh.

Brainard added that the Twin Cities company said it could bring seven more big businesses to the area.

Mayor Larry Buboltz said that number is "difficult to hang your hat on." Because the airport couldn't be moved for seven to 10 years, it's not known if those businesses would still be interested in coming to Detroit Lakes.

A request for a meeting has been acknowledged, but a time hasn't been set as of Tuesday evening.