City discusses possibility of senior center moving to City Center Mall

Could a new home be in the future for the Cambridge Senior Activity Center?

The Cambridge City Council discussed the possibility of the Senior Activity Center moving into City Center Mall during its council meeting Monday, Dec. 17.

The Senior Activity Center (SACS), located on 323 Third Ave. N.W., is located in a former church that is owned by the city of Cambridge. It is also located in a residential neighborhood.

City Administrator Lynda Woulfe explained while SACS has served as a great central gathering point for many years, the life expectancy of the building is limited without significant investment.

Woulfe explained the electrical system is not up to current code standards and the plumbing is a constant issue for public works. She said the furnace is also aging and staff has had a hard time keeping it operational. She added the building is not well insulated and the furnace has to work overtime just to keep up with heating the building.

Following discussion, the council approved a motion to set a rental rate of $500 per month, which includes utilities, for space at City Center Mall for the senior center. The space the senior center would locate in is the space formerly occupied by Healthy Meal Healthy U.

The council directed city staff to continue discussions with representatives from SACS and Catholic Charities, which administers the senior dining program.

Woulfe explained about a year ago, she and Mayor Marlys Palmer met with representatives from SACS and asked if they would be willing to relocate to City Center Mall.

Woulfe explained City Center Mall was discussed for several different reasons such as:

•  A lot of off-street parking.

•  Proper handicap parking and handicap entrances.

• City Center Mall is a designated Cambridge bus stop.

• The city already does maintenance on parking lots, sidewalks, and buildings at City Center Mall since it is space the city owns.

Woulfe said the Senior Center Board is very interested in moving to City Center Mall, and their group has begun researching build-out options for the space.

Woulfe said Catholic Charities would also move the dining site to the City Center Mall as well, noting there is the possibility that Cambridge could serve as the regional senior dining meal preparation site for this part of East Central Minnesota.

Woulfe said current market rate on the property would be $7 per square foot. The senior dining program would get a nonprofit discount of $4.75 per square foot for a rental rate of $500 per month.

Woulfe said the social interaction from activities at SACS and dining program can be a huge asset to those desiring to stay independent instead of moving to an assisted living facility.

She added the commercial kitchen would be of immense help in the event of a disaster, as it could be used to feed emergency workers and other emergency operations staff.

Woulfe said if SACS and senior dining decide they can afford the $500 monthly rent, the other item that will need to be decided in the future is how to pay for the cost of the build out.

BJ Baas Builders Expansion

The City Council approved a motion to approve the Purchase Agreement for the sale of 3.97 acres in the Southeast Cambridge Industrial Park Area 3rd Addition to Bass Properties, LLC. The sale price is $129,699 for the parcel and the purchase of additional fill as needed at $1.50 per cubic yard. The motion to approve the sale was contingent upon final review by the city attorney.

Woulfe explained staff has been working with Brian Baas with Baas Properties, LLC to purchase the entire 3.97 acre lot.

Baas would sell one acre back to the adjacent business owner, Cambridge Self Storage, and the remaining acres would be retained by the buyer to accommodate future building needs.

The future business needs would be for the buyer’s office and yard storage and potential build-to-suit for other tenants from 5,000 to 20,000 square feet.

“I think this is really great,” Palmer said. “I’ve heard very good things about your company and I just want to acknowledge that.”