Opportunity Winona Projects
The Grain and Lumber Exchange building began its’ history on October 15, 1900. Built by the Grain and Lumber Exchange Corporation and designed by the architectural firm Kees and Colburn, the building consisted of 24 office suites that were occupied by some of Winona’s most important firms. Early tenants included lumber and stock companies, attorneys, government officials, and three bowling alleys. The Grain and Lumber Exchange building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
Winona Real Estate Fund purchased the building in October 2021 and began an extensive renovation of the interior and exterior. Today, The Exchange remains a beautiful historic building offering 29 residential units, accommodating a mix of long and short-term tenants in newly created studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments.
The facility is coupled with multistack eco-friendly modular chillers and 450 rooftop solar panels. C.D. Smith Construction
Fastenal, founded in Winona in 1967 when Bob Kierlin pooled together $30,000 with four friends and opened the company’s first location downtown, a 1,000-square-foot building located at 69 Lafayette Street in Winona, Minnesota.
After plans were initially announced in 2018, Fastenal opened their doors to its new 97,600 square foot office in December 7, 2021, welcoming 450 Fastenal employees to 212 West 2nd Street in downtown Winona.
Fastenal has been an active supporter of Opportunity Winona and chose the historic Mississippi riverfront site downtown location as a way to connect its new project with the broader community initiative, which has boosted the vibrancy of downtown and assisted in Fastenal’s employee recruitment.
The company’s decision to develop and build the new office space in the downtown is the result of Fastenal’s broader ongoing planning and review process that looked at the current and future needs. Fastenal has seen continued growth in sales across the company and is projecting the future need to continue to add employees to meet projected growth. In addition to finding the best way to accommodate the growth, the company also wanted to create new space that would help it retain and recruit employees in the future.
Designed by The Kubala Washatko Architects (TKWA), the mass timber frame building reflects an environmentally conscious design with timeless characteristics that pay homage to the downtown riverfront area, including locally sourced Winona stone. Intended to look like a hundred-year-old building from afar, the new office perfectly blends into Winona's historic landscape. Up close, modern features tout Fastenal's manufacturing and supply capabilities. From exposed X-bracing right down to every single nut and bolt, Fastenal products can be seen incorporated into the building.
C.D. Smith Construction (La Crosse, WI) built and managed the 16-month construction project. The original building concept consisted of a steel frame core. With a growing focus on building sustainability and advancing occupants' health and well-being, the project team at C.D. Smith and TKWA proposed an alternative mass timber frame. Intrigued by the concept and benefits it would provide, along building a brand new building to look like it has been here for a century, Fastenal moved forward with the mass timber design.
C.D. Smith Construction self-performed the concrete footings and foundation, steel and wood erection, rough and finished carpentry, and brick and stone masonry. Winona Heating and Ventilating's provided HVAC engineering and design services for a state-of-the-art HVAC system. Coupled with Multistack eco-friendly modular chillers and 450 rooftop solar panels, Fastenal's new office building is impressively sustainable and efficient.
60 Main Street Project Will Build on Opportunity Winona Momentum
and Redevelop Another Key Part of the City’s Historic Downtown
When the Opportunity Winona Initiative was launched, the Port Authority of Winona made a commitment to “bring new growth to an energized Downtown Winona.” To date, there have been great strides toward this public private partnership. New developments such as Main Square and Fastenal have energized the area. Historic Redevelopments projects such as 51 East Fourth Street, 102 Walnut and 151 East Third Street show how historic buildings can be reactivated in Downtown Winona. The 60 Main project was intended to spark future development in downtown Winona. As it happened, the other projects took off first, providing the catalyst needed for redevelopment of downtown Winona.
The 60 Main Street site is in a historic section of downtown and is owned by the Port Authority of Winona. It has been part Winona’s ongoing planning and redevelopment process and looked at as a good location for a mixed-use redevelopment that could include new housing and commercial. The property is also located next to the newly remodeled Levee Park and near the new Fastenal office building.
As part of its broader planning process, the city has completed a downtown strategic plan and also a specific study focused on the viability of a hotel. The planning process and information from the study showed that Winona could support additional hotel rooms and highlighted the importance of a significant development at the 60 Main site.
After years of planning, review, and detailed marketplace analysis, redeveloping 60 Main Street remains a priority of Opportunity Winona. Opportunity Winona continues to communicate with the Port Authority about potential development opportunities at the 60 Main location, including developers who have varying levels of interest in the site.
Main Square Phase II, Development of Additional Housing
Building on the successes of a number of downtown projects that have brought more jobs and housing to the City, Opportunity Winona celebrates the success of the Main Square Phase II Housing Development Project in downtown Winona, which consists of four-stories of apartments. Opportunity Winona is focused on redevelopment in the city that brings the public and private sectors together to create new developments and investment in Winona.
Part of the Main Square Phase II Project involved Metro Plains, the former owner of the land at 165 West Fifth Street, who requested a plat to legally separate the Middle School auditorium from Washington Crossing, which is the former Winona Middle School that was converted to apartments in 2004. The auditorium had been vacant since 2000 and the building had been severely damaged by water intrusion, and other general decay. Main Square purchased the former auditorium and demolished the blighted building with plans to develop Masterpiece Hall—a proposed $35 million art gallery and a 700 – 800 seat music hall in its place.
The City of Winona is currently investing over $4 million to restore and renovate the nearby historic Winona Masonic Temple Theater. The building now serves as the community Friendship Center and an active theater and resource for the arts and community theater organizations.
In addition to creating the new housing, city leaders also took advantage of the fact that this part of the city being designated as an Opportunity Zone. Opportunity Zones were created to revitalize economically distressed communities using private investments instead of taxpayers. The goal is to attract private investment in Opportunity Zone areas in exchange for the ability to defer capital gains tax incentives.
As announced by the Winona Post on January 14, 2022
Story by Chris Rogers
Plans for Masterpiece Hall Announced
Between the Minnesota Marine Art Museum and the recent Main Square development, Bob Kierlin and Mary Burrichter have made some big moves to help Winona grow and draw people to the island city. But they aren’t done yet. The couple announced plans to construct a $35 million music hall and art gallery at the site of the former junior high school auditorium that will host world-class classical music and art in two to three years.
Dubbed Minnesota Masterpiece Hall, Kierlin and Burrichter hope to draw people from across the country for “top-notch musical performances every Sunday afternoon” paired with art exhibits, including some of Kierlin and Burrichter’s collection of European masters currently on display at the Marine Art Museum (MMAM). They have tapped longtime Minnesota Beethoven Festival Artistic and Managing Director and Saint Mary’s University Fine and Performing Arts Chair Ned Kirk to be the organization’s artistic director and CEO and Schwab Construction of Winona to lead the building of the gallery space and 700-800-seat music hall.
“It should be a shot in the arm for downtown on a Sunday,” Burrichter said.
Kierlin told the Post, “Mary and I really have an interest in trying to promote economic development here in Winona.” The couple’s growing art collection — with works by Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, O’Keefe, and more on display at MMAM — has been one of the ways they sought to promote Winona’s growth, and, by many measures, MMAM has put Winona on the map as an arts destination. But Kierlin said, “For all the money we invested in it, it has not had a big return in and of itself … So, we thought, what could we do to get more tourism in Winona?”
The idea they came up with was to combine fine art and music in a purpose-built facility in the heart of downtown. “Really high end art and really high end music — that combination, we believe, is really greater than the two,” Burrichter said.
The concept for Minnesota Masterpiece Hall is still subject to change, but Kirk, Kierlin and Burrichter plan to have concerts featuring everything from string quartets to full orchestras perform a May-through-October season, with the galleries open on Sunday mornings, matinee performances on Sunday afternoons, and plenty of time for attendees to patronize Winona restaurants and hotels before and after. Kierlin said Fastenal has agreed to let Minnesota Masterpiece Hall use its parking lot at the former YMCA site for Sunday performances.
“It definitely is unique and it’s certainly something that not every community will have,” Winona Director of Community Development Lucy McMartin said. “I’m excited about the economic development side of this. They’re talking about performances over a longer period of time and that should benefit our restaurants and our hotels and make a big impact on downtown.”
The idea partly builds off the success of the Beethoven Festival. “The success of that has shown that people really do want that here,” Kirk said. He noted that people drive 9-10 hours to Winona to see certain artists and pieces at that festival.
Kirk was particularly enthused about the spring through fall schedule. Since many of the best European musicians won’t play during the summer, the longer season “absolutely opens the doors” to bringing talent to Winona that wouldn’t otherwise be possible, Kirk said.
McMartin said, “We look at how great Beethoven has been with a three-week season in Winona and this just adds more to that.”
The new music hall will be located at the site of the former junior high school auditorium, which Kierlin’s Main Square Development company purchased last fall and is currently demolishing. The site had at one point been intended for a public-private parking ramp in partnership with the city, and more recently as a surface-level parking lot for the tenants of Main Square apartments. Kierlin and Pete Schwab of Schwab Construction said that parking for Main Square and Washington Crossings will be provided elsewhere, possibly at the site of the former Winona County Government Center at Fourth and Main streets, which is currently a surface lot owned by Main Square.
The site is next door to the historic Winona Public Library and Winona State University Laird Norton Building, which is being renovated as a home for the college art department, and the city’s Historic Masonic Temple Theatre and the Winona County History Center are nearby. Referencing long-running discussions of a downtown “arts district” Acting Winona City Manager Chad Ubl said, “From a city standpoint, it creates a great synergy with the library being a neighbor, with the potential the Laird Norton has and the Masonic Temple. It creates a great synergy for the arts certainly in that corridor.”
Asked why the organization didn’t opt for renovating the former auditorium, Pete Schwab said it was not an ideal venue to begin with and that its condition fell beyond repair. ““People call that an auditorium. It wasn’t. It was just part of the school,” he said. “We don’t need a theater or a pool … We don’t need a gymnasium,” he added. Even among the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission, “There was nobody who could imagine fixing that,” Schwab said. He continued, “You were never going to find anyone interested in doing anything with it.” Kierlin chimed in, “And that included me.”
Kierlin and Burrichter noted that the new facility will be purpose-built for music, with optimal acoustics and stage design for that use. “It’s for music. It’s not for 25 different purposes,” Burrichter said.
They added that education programs with local schools could be part of musicians’ appearances in Winona and that the facility could host other events in the offseason.
“We just think if we put all these great things together, how can it not work?” Burrichter said.
Port Authority of Winona Purchased Downtown Property for Future Development
As a supporter of Opportunity Winona, Hiawatha Broadband Communications (HBC) approached the Port Authority of Winona about purchasing downtown property owned by HBC. The Port Authority of Winona made the investment of $481,000 to purchase two HBC properties in 2022, 67 Main Street and a portion of 58 Johnson Street to help further development of downtown. The two properties are adjacent to the 60 Main site. The immediate plan is to use a portion of 58 Johnson Street for parking and the building at 67 Main Street, for downtown events.
The Port Authority of Winona purchase of 58 Johnson Street and 67 Main will serve as a catalyst for future riverfront development and additional improvements to Levee Park for the betterment of the community.
Like Main Square, 60 Main, and the former Middle School auditorium—58 Johnson Street and 67 Main Street are located in an Opportunity Zone, which were created to revitalize economically distressed communities by attracting private investment in Opportunity Zone areas in exchange for tax incentives.