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Community group will raise funds to save redevelopment of Fergus Falls landmark

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There was a late save for a historic building in Fergus Falls. The Fergus Falls Journal reports that a local group stepped forward Monday night with a plan to cover a funding gap in developing the former castle-like Regional Treatment Center, also known as the Kirkbride.

Laurie Mullen, a representative from Friends of the Kirkbride, told a city council meeting that the volunteer group is willing and able to raise funds to help cover developer Ray Willey’s $700,000 shortfall in his proposal to develop the center. The city committed to give him $300,000. The community group stepped forward to pledge the remaining amount.

“You certainly can't let a project go for $700,000, something that's going to put a $42 million investment into this community," said Mullen.

Valley News Live in Fargo said the group is asking the community of Fergus Falls to contribute with additional financial pledges to help them save the landmark. The Friends of the Kirkbride Facebook page has more than 2,700 members who have already pledged between $300,000 and $500,000.

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Georgia developer Willey, who specializes in renovating historic structures, has proposed turning the architecturally-significant center, which was closed by the state in 2009, it into a multi-use complex featuring a hotel, apartments, restaurants and a coffee shop.

The council voted unanimously to continue with more specific negotiations with Willey. A city council committee was appointed to meet in person with Willey before the end of the year to negotiate a developer’s agreement.

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