ALEXANDRIA — A new art center cafe plans to open at 2020 Fillmore Street in Alexandria, the former Quality Printing/Hegg law firm.

The project, estimated at $685,000, will renovate and remodel the building inside and out. It includes new windows, new flooring, security and accessibility features as well as the addition of a commercial kitchen and bathrooms.

The owners are Jeanne and Charles Tanksley of Alexandria and they call the business the ArtisTree Community Art Center and Cafe. They also own Venia LLC, which owns the site at 2020 Fillmore Street.

At Thursday’s Alexandria City Council meeting, they applied for and received a $200,000 loan from the city’s revolving loan fund. The agreement requires the loan to be repaid over 15 years at an interest rate of 6.75%.

“The project will fill an interesting niche that the city needs,” said city planner Mike Weber.

The arts center will connect local artists and include gathering and meeting spaces, Jeanne Tanksley said while outlining the project to the council.

She said someone once told her that you have to do a lot of bad art before you can do good art and that the center will provide that practice space, like splash rooms where artists can “do mess” while exploring their creativity.

“It will be a place of connection, healing and expression,” said Jeanne Tanksley.

The Tanksleys plan to call part of the center “The Treehouse”. It will include two swings, a pull-out stage, bar and table seating, personal easels, comfy couches, a kids’ chalkboard, and customizable lighting.

The center will also accommodate small groups of artists, a need local artists have expressed, she said.

The cafe, she said, will feature custom dishes served on sweet and savory waffles, espresso drinks and floats.

Dollars from the city’s loan fund will also help leverage additional investment for the project from the West Central Initiative and the Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation, as well as private investment from American National Bank.

The city’s loan fund is expected to have an available balance of $745,574 on July 31.

The Tanksleys will cover all closing costs, including legal, title, registration, registration tax and other fees.

They plan to hire four full-time and seven part-time employees by 2023.

More time to pick up garden waste?

Alexandria residents may soon have more time to have their yard waste transported by garbage trucks.

Council has given preliminary approval to amend city code that would extend the bi-monthly pick-up period for leaves and other yard waste from April 15 to December 15 or until the first 3-inch snowfall after April 15 November, whichever comes first.

Currently, the city’s garbage collection codes require haulers to pick up yard waste from May 1 through November 1. However, for several years the yard waste “season” has started earlier and ended later than these days, leaving some residents without available resources. pickup, according to urban planner Mike Weber.

A second and final reading of the order will take place at another meeting and the change could come into effect on January 1, 2023.

Highway 29 corridor to be studied

Council member Bill Franzen has been appointed to serve on a new study review panel that will examine the Highway 29 corridor from Eighth to 18th Avenue.

The committee also includes citizen members.

The study is part of a partnership framework contract with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and is the first step in planning and evaluating the design elements that will be incorporated into the project scheduled for 2028, according to the engineer. municipal Tim Schoonhoven.

The study will include examining local needs for utilities, traffic, cyclist and pedestrian safety, storm water requirements and environmental documentation. It will also provide concept layouts, as well as preliminary costs.

At a council meeting in February, Schoonhoven said the hallway had not been studied for some time and that many changes had taken place that affected it, such as the demolition of Jefferson High School.

The city contributed $5,000 to the MnDOT for the study, which is expected to be completed in June 2023. According to the MnDOT, the corridor consists primarily of commercial land uses.

Traffic counts indicate an annual average daily traffic of 16,300 in the corridor and an annual average of 1,050 heavy duty vehicles.

Challenges, according to the MnDOT, include balancing the needs of motorized and non-motorized traffic, access management, local roads that access the corridor, and signaling operations. The MnDOT plans to add new signals on Highway 29 south to Dakota Avenue.

The board held a public hearing to get feedback on the draft 2023 budget and the tax levy.

It will take place on Monday, September 26 at 7:15 p.m. during the regular council meeting.

The city is required to adopt the preliminary budget and levy no later than September 30.

Track stolen goods

The Alexandria Police Department may soon have a better way to find stolen property.

The council has given preliminary approval to change a section of the city’s code relating to pawnbrokers. The change would give the police department the power to determine how pawnshop records should be kept. This will allow the city to connect to “Leads Online” which would better track stolen property.

That would end the tracking of items through paper slips, City Administrator Marty Schultz said.

The city will cover Leads Online subscription fees, estimated at $2,500 per year.

Police have met with local pawnbrokers and they support the new ordinance, City Administrator Marty Schultz said.