A new medical school for Minnesota – in the town of Gaylord?

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A plan to bring a start-up medical school to not-yet-vacant school property in a small town in southern Minnesota has taken another step forward.

The Mankato Free Press reports the Gaylord City Council has approved an option and sale agreement with the New York-based Danza Group, the developer of the medical school project. Gaylord, a town of 2,300, is located 34 miles northwest of Mankato and about 70 miles from the Twin Cities.

"The city is all on board, whether you go to the grocery store or to the local watering hole, everyone is talking about it," Gaylord City Mayor Don Boeder told KEYC. He added the medical school could be "up and running" by as soon as late 2017 or early 2018.

In April, the council approved a preliminary agreement with the developer. It set in motion a plan to allow the medical school to occupy the current Sibley East elementary and junior high school, after a land swap with the Sibley East School District. The city currently owns land on which a new school will be built.

Previously, the Hutchinson Leader reported the 125,000 square feet of property would be renovated into a new medical school, which would include classrooms and student dorms that could provide housing for over 300 students. The total enrollment at the four-year school is expected to be about 600 medical students, with 30 to 50 professors and support staff.

"We’ve met with the school,” City Administrator Kevin McCann told the Free Press. “And we’ve pretty much agreed to the land swap in principle.”

The developer has until Sept. 1 to conduct its due diligence on the property. At that point, a $10,000 deposit will go to the city to pay for additional development studies and to cover a one-year option, the newspaper says.

The Danza Group has a track record with medical schools. It transformed the former New York hospital into a medical school for Touro College, a project that took three years.

Representatives of the group are expected to meet city leaders later this month. Gaylord’s access to Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as its rural location as the county seat for Sibley County, are among the factors that made it appealing to the Danza Group, a news release notes.

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