It was time for a victory lap at The Confluence Thursday evening.
Wrapped around a meeting of the Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority (HEDRA) meeting in The Confluence event …
It was time for a victory lap at The Confluence Thursday evening.
Wrapped around a meeting of the Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority (HEDRA) meeting in The Confluence event space, a ceremony was held to thank the many city officials, Hastings City Council and commission members who worked for 15 years to see the transformation of a dilapidated factory building into the community’s gem. Also in attendance were partners who provided vital grant funding.
The HEDRA meeting was brief, yet certainly its best attended. Remarked Chair Peggy Horsch, “We have more people than we’ve had all year.”
HEDRA members approved bill payments, with Community Development Director John Hinzman noting, “There’s not any bills related to Confluence, which is nice to see.”
Hinzman gave updates on developments happening around Hastings.
“It’s the first time in many years in which I did not have an update on Confluence,” he said.
On the “non-Confluence list,” he noted that the KFC restaurant has been granted an occupancy permit, though he’s not heard of an opening date.
Segueing back to The Confluence, Horsch thanked developer Pat Regan for hosting the gathering, where tours were held and officials who influenced and guided the project enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and beverages, got behind-the-scenes tours of The Confluence, including chatting with local artists whose work adorns the walls of the 77-room hotel.
The Confluence is managed by IDM Hospitality, which operates eight hotels throughout the Midwest. The development includes the hotel and apartment and is the new home of the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce. The history of the building is intertwined the history of Hastings. The landmark manufacturing home of Hudson Sprayers at the foot of the famed Spiral Bridge was purchased by the city in 2009. HEDRA took control of the project in 2010 after the property was purchased for $3 million, $250,000 of that coming from a Dakota County Community Development Agency grant. Over the life of the project, $4.8 million in grant funding guided environmental and site clean-up, planning and provided for site amenities. The Confluence benefited from 20 separate grants from Dakota County CDA, the Met Council, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
“It’s been a long time coming, and everybody knows that,” said Horsch, thanking the city, developers and The Confluence staff for hosting the event.
Mayor Mary Fasbender termed the development as “the jewel of Hastings.”
“How lovely is it to be able to say we’re here, and it’s open and complete,” she said. “This project has been a labor of love for nearly 15 years and all of you in this room were a part of it along the way.”
The project was a success due to the diligence of all the project partners.
“This by no means has been an easy task, but it has been well worth it,” she said. “We’ve been waiting a long time. More than 30 city council and HEDRA members worked over the past 14 years to take a vision, a dream really, and turn it into a reality. Thank you to all of you who stuck with the project over the years.”
Fasbender continued, “When I walked in here for the first time upon completion, I stopped in my steps and tears, literally tears of joy, were in my eyes not only for the construction team and developers, but for our community. The history of this manufacturing company and building have been designed into an incredible addition to our business community and riverfront.”
As much of the wood and metal, beams and supports as possible were worked into the “new” building.
“You will notice the thoughtfulness of repurposing items that were built here for numerous years. The attention and the detail and the use of the historical elements from the old Hudson building, as well as the Hastings history is truly touching and pays homage to our river town community,” said Fasbender.
Hinzman recognized current and former councilmembers, commissioners, city staff and grand funding partners.
“This is a collaboration of all of us here,” he said. “One of the commitments we had early on with this project was we wanted to remove the last industrial remnant from the riverfront in Hastings. That was one of the great goals.”
When the Spiral Bridge was replaced, that opened up the opportunity for the city to step in and purchase the Hudson building, with the firm relocating to a building in the Hastings Industrial Park.
“We looked at this property in 2003, 20 years ago, and said, ‘Hey, we would love to keep the historic part of this building and open up the riverfront.’ As you remember, the riverfront along the Hudson manufacturing building here was nothing really that attractive,” Hinzman said. “We did acquire the site in 2009. We had this newly minted thing called HEDRA. HEDRA had not done much at the time, so we took on the most complicated project in our history.”
Cleanup and construction were a challenge. It had been added onto multiple times, and remnants of a long-ago fire were just buried in the facility. Environmental remediation needed to be done on the site.
Regan, head of Confluence Development, LLC, credited those attending for helping see the project through.
“I want to thank all of you for coming and enjoying the fruits of your vision, your labor, your decisions. We’ve all looked forward to this day, and I do want to really recognize there were some really good decisions made early on with the site itself,” he said. Regan said that they learned after being chosen as the developer of the project that the 1946 addition to the factory was actually built by Regan’s wife Mary’s grandfather, Nick Wagner.
“This really is a classic, iconic example of public-private partnership and economic development. All those pieces of this puzzle were and are necessary for this kind of a project to come to the fruition we’ve seen today. I just want to congratulate everybody who made those courageous decisions early on,” said Regan.
Regan said then-mayor Paul Hicks asked him when he was going to submit a proposal for the riverfront site.
“I told him flat out, I don’t have a proposal,” Regan said.
Then, a family event brought Bill Weyland to Hastings. Regan and Weyland have children who are married. Weyland, of Lexington, KY, has redeveloped numerous historic buildings.
“I think he was here for either a First Communion or a baptism. I said, ‘Hey Bill, they’ve got this project, and they’ve taken one run with an RFP (request for proposals), and they haven’t been able to select the developer they really like. I kind of think there’s some pretty good potential. There’s no other site like this. I don’t know of one. And then I asked the fateful question, ‘Do you want to go down there and look at it with me’ And he said, ‘Let’s go down there’ and it didn’t take long,” Reagan said.
With Weyland on board, a vision for the site materialized.
“I want to recognize Weyland Ventures because they were the key driver in the preliminary design and being able to establish our credibility with the city in our ability to actually do this, because I didn’t know how to do this and they did,” said Regan.
Regan talked about aspects of the building that was repurposed, bathroom shelving units made from the original wood and door plates made from steel in the building. He talked of the many stories he’s enjoyed from people who used to work in the building. He closed his remarks with another thank you to the city, the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce and the Hastings Downtown Business Association for their support.
Looking out at the assembled crowd, he said. “Pat yourselves on the back. You’ve got a lot to be proud of. Let’s celebrate. Cheers!”