City ponders $100k forgivable loan for the Archer House; a royal flush for downtown?

Archer House

Last week, the Northfield EDA recommended that the City enter into a partnership with the Archer House: a $100k forgivable loan in exchange for ADA-compliant toilets for public use. I like the idea and I think Dallas Haas would, too. See pages 9-21 in the June 25 EDA packet; the June 27th Nfld News story; and the June 26 Friday Memo in which Joel Walinksi wrote: (continued)


The EDA Thursday provided their recommendation of a $100,000 forgivable loan to that site, the owners of the Archer House River Inn, to be used as gap financing for the estimated $1.25M Archer House renovation project. The forgivable loan would be a Master Development Loan, which will require council approval before the agreement is finalized from a fantastic read.

In addition to a significant renovation of the Archer House, a downtown Northfield landmark, this agreement also establishes a partnership between the Archer House and City on the public use of private space. As part of this agreement the ADA compliant restroom facilities will be available to the public daily from 6:00 AM to 12:30 AM.

At the EDA meeting, Mr. Brett Reese and Mr. Todd Byhre, representing the Archer House, provided a presentation on the extent of the renovation project and a general assessment of the newly focused business plan of the inn. In July, Council will be asked to consider approval of this agreement.


  1. Peter Millin said:

    If the $100000 is given to renovate “PUBLIC RESTROOMS” I am all for it, as long as they remain public property.

    I would hope that we really take a good look how this money is spend.
    Given our current budget crisis, financed projects should be divided in to two categories.

    1) Want to have
    2) Must have

    For now we should be dealing with “must have” only.

    June 29, 2009
  2. Jane Moline said:

    According to the “News”, this money is for PUBIC restrooms. I don’t know if I am for or against.

    June 29, 2009
  3. David Beimers said:

    Archer House really needs some attention to the exterior, as well. I’m not promoting the use of local dollars, but I do hope that such a visible and integral part of the downtown fabric is maintained.

    June 29, 2009
  4. Charlene Coulombe-Fiore said:

    What loan Program exists that allows one to place public dollars into a private business????

    Where is the financing gap?
    Where is the criteria….and surely where do you draw the line? How much money does the fund have? How do you determine who gets this cash…. forgiveable loan??? Surely every business downtown could use some free cash. As much as everyone love the owners of the hotel, how many loans/grants should one person get and why is no one following the guidelines of the program?
    Let’s not even get into the “conflicts of interest here”
    This is nuts!! wheres all the bloggers on this one….

    July 10, 2009
  5. Matthew Hagen said:

    While I love the Archer House, both for its history and just how it fits in to downtown as a whole, I see this as a bad idea. Downtown Northfield is in serious need of public restrooms that I will admit. However placing them at one end of downtown, away from the city center and directly across the street from the library which also has public restrooms seems an irresponsible way to spend money that our city really does not have at this time. If we are going to invest $100,000 in to a public restroom why don’t we try to figure out a way to centrally locate them in such a way that they serve all of downtown and not just the north end? Giving a private business city money for its remodeling project seems fiscally irresponsible in a time of budget cuts and recession.

    July 11, 2009
  6. Tracy Davis said:

    The city has given “city money” to “private businesses” for years, in one way or another. Of all the things to get worked up about, this strikes me as really low priority. (I hate to use the argument that the City has done much stupider things with its fiscal tools over the years, but I’ll leave that alone.)

    This loan was via a public process, after a series of public meetings, using a funding mechanism that the City has had in place for almost 20 years. If you don’t like how the city is operating, then get involved so you can have a say during the process.

    I also don’t think that having public restrooms on between 2nd and 3rd streets is a problem when most downtown activities take place within 3 blocks of there. Where else in the world are people not willing to walk two to three blocks to a restroom? I’m sure we all do the equivalent of that in malls and airports.

    July 11, 2009
  7. Jane Moline said:

    Ditto, Tracy. I don’t know if people realize how much the public restrooms in the Archer House are used by the general public. Only in America would someone think 3 blocks is too far to walk for a restroom.

    These kind of small, targeted loans are appropriate for providing public services that otherwise become cost-prohibitive for local businesses. Blue Monday and Hogan Bros can tell you horror stories of downtown crowds overwhelming their bathrooms.

    July 11, 2009
  8. Matthew Hagen said:

    First off let me apologize for my criticism of the concept of the city giving money to a private business. While I do not personally agree with the taxpayer funding renovation on private buildings that is a discussion that distracts from my main point. I do understand that three blocks is not that far to walk having made the walk myself many times to use public restrooms that already exist across the street at the public library. My main issue with this project is simply its location. The public restrooms at the library have existed for years and yet places like Hogan Bros., Blue Monday, and the Northfield Historical Society can all comment on the massive problems that arise from the masses attempting to use bathrooms placed there for paying patrons. Why? Because of location. All three of the above businesses are more centrally located in terms of downtown and the flow of existing Northfield celebrations. Adding more restrooms across the street from the current public ones will increase access on that end yes but not stop people from jumping in to Hogan Bros, the Historical Society or Blue Monday first. I’m sorry but we do live in America and a sad fact related to that is the people (not all but a significant number) choose to take the easy way out. If this means using a private establishments restroom instead of walking the 2 blocks to the public ones they will do that.
    Tracy – I do think that it is important to get involved in the process and that is why I began commenting here. I was unable to be involved during the process due to other family and work commitments and figure that commenting here would be the first step toward increasing my participation within the Northfield Community. Thank you for encouraging others to do the same.

    July 11, 2009
  9. Charlene Coulombe-Fiore said:

    My response was made after Tracy’s, so I am unclear as to how this order was rearranged.
    The loan programs in place at the time of my departure, and previously, (small and Large DT loans) did not incorporate “a forgiveness” clause, or nor a structure or basis for this forgiveness. That makes it a very sticky situation and unfortunately not good for the City until they get their ducks in a row. I spent several meetings, numerous hours, with a group of staff many times going over ways we could work with them on the Archer House and several other projects. However, unless someone has created a NEW source of documents providing a means to fund this project, this blog is premature. Ask Ross how many times he tried to adjust the programs, and how many proposals I brought to the EDA to make the programs meet the needs of the business owners. On my departure I also provided a list of issues that needed to be addressed, why and how to fix them. I have just been trying to help here…Any State, Federal, or Local Program has to have a set or rules and guidelines where everyone is evaluated and is meeting the criteria. Without that, the City is being placed in a very vulnerable position.

    July 16, 2009
  10. David Henson said:

    Would these be called the Archer House Toilets? This might be confusing. Maybe the library toilets could be called Toilets 1 and the Archer House Toilets 2. The city should then consider $2.2 million for signage to clarify to Northfield vistors which option best suits them.

    July 20, 2009
  11. Griff Wigley said:

    That would be a great use of Stimulus money, David!

    July 20, 2009
  12. Patrick Enders said:

    Do we really want the Northfield public restrooms being used for stimulus programs?

    July 27, 2009
  13. […] have been bearing down hard at the Archer House in recent weeks. It’s partially the result of the City of Northfield’s $100k forgivable loan for ADA-compliant public restroom facilities. Other areas of the Archer House are also undergoing renovation, estimated last summer to be […]

    January 9, 2010

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