Future of Bemidji's Rail Corridor could be fitness focused
The area, located in the city's downtown, extends from Park Avenue Northwest to land near the Mississippi River and is bordered by existing rail lines. It's been the subject of discussion since 2017, with interest coming in from community members for potential redevelopment.
On Monday, July 12, a presentation was given to the Bemidji City Council by the St. Paul Port Authority, which was contracted in 2017 to study the land quality of the area. Before the city bought the land in 2003 for utility work, the area had been the site of gas and oil stations, as well as a coal gasification plant.
Initially, the proposed idea for the corridor was mainly residential with some space for commercial businesses. However, plans for the area have since changed and last year, Sanford Health proposed a new wellness center complex for the corridor.
During a council work session Monday, Monte Hilleman of the St. Paul Port Authority said a considerable amount of work has been done to test the soil, which was contaminated by its former industrial use. However, further study would be required should the council look at changing its concept for the area.
"The soil boring and contamination data is there," Hilleman said. "It's how you use that data to create a specific plan for intended land use. When the intended land use and footprint changes, you go back to the data and see if you have enough to find a new solution for a new footprint.
Sanford Health is partnering with Greater Bemidji Economic Development on the facilities, estimated at $30 million. Sanford Health is intending to invest $10 million in the project while also seeking funding through philanthropic donations and grants.
Not a fan. Sanford proposed building this near the hospital a few years ago. Would rather see more residential at this site.