Created: 05/13/2014 10:47 PM KAALtv.com
By: John Doetkott
(ABC 6 News) -- A development firm based in Kansas City recently bought the Freeborn Bank and Jacobson buildings in downtown Albert Lea.
The buildings are seen as the cornerstone of a downtown development project, and on Tuesday officials unveiled their plans for a complete restoration.
Those buildings sat vacant for years as city leaders tried to find a buyer, but now the city's desire for increased residential and community space looks like it will finally come to fruition.
At an open house Tuesday evening, representatives for the developer, Cohen-Esrey Real Estate Services, said new plans call for apartments on the upper floors and a flexible community space on the ground floor.
Officials said they are in talks with the Albert Lea Art Center to create a gallery and said they see the space as a focal point for both the project and the community.
“It's really important that the community has access to this space,” said Clint Jayne, a development partner with Cohen-Esrey. “It's tax dollars, community dollars that paid for it, so we think it's equally important that the community has access to it."
The developer said they are still working to secure some tax credits but hope to begin construction in January, with tenants hopefully moving in by next October.