12/6/2012 8:19:00 PM ArtOrg buys, to move to space next to CF VFW
by Ken Haggerty
ArtOrg, a non-profit art organization, has bought the building next to the Cannon Falls VFW on Fourth Street, between Mill and Hoffman. They will be moving into the space in 2013.
ArtOrg has been operating out of the Northfield area for the past decade. They had been located on Division Street in downtown Northfield previously but have most recently been operating out of space at Switzer's Nursery in rural Northfield.
The group's mission statement asserts ArtOrg impacts individuals and communities through visual arts projects and events primarily centered in print, with public art, commissioned work, and experiential-based education initiatives.
Executive Director Dave Machacek describes the group's work as project orientated, directed in large degree by grants it receives,
Examples of past projects include taking print-making equipment to public events and allowing people to make their own prints, public sculpture displays (in downtown Northfield and on the Bill Neil farm near Castle Rock), classes on lithography, mural-sized public prints, concert series, films and videos. Machacek said they have done over 100 events in the last four years, traveling to all corners of Minnesota.
Plans for the 9,000 square feet of Cannon Falls space are still evolving and renovations will be necessary, but Machacek said it will incorporate space for their print-making equipment, gallery space and office space (they currently have a staff of two).
The building has three apartment spaces and Machacek said they may try to develop a resident artist program using those spaces in the future.
Machacek said low-interest loan assistance offered through the Cannon Falls Economic Development Authority and the support of Cannon Falls city economic development director Dave Maroney were key in getting ArtOrg to Cannon Falls into a space that he thinks will work great for their purposes.
"We liked the beautiful downtown Cannon Falls location, which is tightly contained," said Machacek. He mentioned the new Library, the Winery and the River as attractions.
The building opens to the Falls of the Little Cannon River on its backside.
The facility was an eight-lane bowling alley when opened in the 1960s by Jim and Marie Lentsch, according to "Historic Cannon Falls." Don Ryland ran the alleys and the "Ten Pin" restaurant in 1977. In 1984, Don Sazma bought the building. Bob and Marlene Banks owned the building for a few years, running the Trail Station for bike and in-line skate rental along with batting cages and archery ranges. The lower level has been vacant with the upper space rented as apartments for quite a while.
Maroney said the EDA was able to offer some three percent rates on 15-year loans and worked with ArtOrg on the terms to facilitate negotiations with their other lenders.
Maroney said the EDA felt this was a good way to sell a property that has been hard to move as the space is somewhat unconventional for standard office or retail. Maroney calls ArtOrg a good fit with the downtown mix of entertainment and recreation and thinks it will bring people and activity to the neighborhood as well as some recognition for Cannon Falls.
Maroney said the non-profit ArtOrg may be able to claim exemption from property taxes, but thinks in the near-term at least some property tax will be paid as the apartment space is expected to be continued as rental to the public.