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Grover's up for auction, city interested in redevelopment

The former Grover-Lindberg Convenience Store, is going on the auction block Tuesday, and the City of Detroit Lakes Development Authority is considering the purchase and redevelopment of the former Wisted's Hardware Hank and the VFW building to help liven up the north side of town. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers_

When consultants RGD worked up a plan for the north side of Washington Avenue in Detroit Lakes, the city listened.

Next year, with the county already planning to reconstruct Washington Avenue from the railroad tracks to Highway 34, the city decided to get involved and not only replace the underground utilities, but also liven up the street and landscaping as well.

The plan includes a bike lane, decorative street lighting, possibly colored concrete and more to liven up the area.

The former Washington School has been purchased, half torn down and is being rebuilt as a senior housing development.

Things are looking up for the north side.

To add to it, there is an auction Tuesday to try to sell the Grover-Lindberg Convenience Store and Tire Center property, which closed and went into foreclosure nearly five years ago.

Depending on how the auction goes, there is talk of redeveloping the entire block, either by the city or with the city's help.

City Administrator Bob Louiseau said he contacted Mayor Matt Brenk, who is also a real estate agent, about the Wistead's Hardware Hank and VFW properties. Both are listed for sale.

"I don't know (that they have) a lot of value, to be honest with you," Louiseau told Detroit Lakes Development Authority members last week.

The Wisted building sold for $50,000 at a 2008 going-out-of-business auction, but because of access issues, the sale fell through. It is listed on a realty site for $129,000.

The VFW property is listed at $589,000, but Louiseau said it is more like $389,000 for the real estate and the remainder is more the business.

"There may be people interested in this property," he said of the whole block.

One person who has expressed interest is David Spies, who owns Voyageur Lanes Bowling Alley in Detroit Lakes. A couple years ago Spies came before the Detroit Lakes City Council with plans to build a condo building on the bowling alley site and to relocate the bowling alley. He had talked about relocating it to the North Washington Avenue area because of the redevelopment opportunities.

Louiseau said that Spies would more than likely ask for financial help from the development authority, which the DLDA would be willing to provide.

DLDA member Dennis Winskowski, who once supported the development authority purchasing the land, said he was now leaning the other way and waiting to help a developer rather than have the city be the developer.

"I don't think the property is marketable at this price," he said. "Maybe we just need to be in the weeds" and help out someone else who wants to develop it, he added.

Authority member Mary Beth Gilsdorf agreed, saying that with the redevelopment of the crescent area going on, maybe two major projects is more than the DLDA wants to be the lead agency on at the same time.

Authority member Bruce Imholte disagreed, saying, "we need to take a risk at some point, but I'm willing to wait until after the auction."

If the property doesn't sell, the development authority agreed to look into buying the land to develop.

The Grover auction begins at 11 a.m. on Tuesday and will be sold as two different parcels. A minimum bid of $300,000 has been set for the convenience store, tire center and offices parcel, and a minimum bid of $100,000 has been set for the tire warehouse parcel.

The first parcel has been listed for $950,000, and the second parcel has been listed for $185,000.