Public toilets and more emerging at Archer House

Archer House renovation Archer House renovation Archer House renovation Archer House renovation
Workers at Schmidt Homes Remodeling, a division of Steven Schmidt Construction, 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 $1.25M. I took these photos prior to the NDDC forum on Tuesday.

For all you firm and regular taxpayers out there who think the City’s loan was a waste, let me remind you that the “only true human waste is a waste of time.”


  1. victor summa said:

    Griff, the EDA’s financial support of the Archer House improvements – is not so simply expressed as you have here –

    “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 $1.25M.”

    The last part of your quote is the essential peg on which I hung my EDA vote ” to Fund 100K.

    As you point out the 100K MAY be forgivable. That is dependent on the Archer House performing on the agreement it made to receive the one hundred thousand dollar loan – the expenditure of the $1,250,000 million in general improvements throughout the historic icon on Division Street.

    Given that much of the EDA charge is to support the historic downtown (DT) (see the EDA TIP plan) and thereby reap the rewards of the DT, in our effort to generate more economic stability and growth for Northfield, this token 100K loan seems like a wise choice.

    The EDA is about taking economic risk and or providing support where conventional lenders might fear to tread. This 100K fragment of the total improvements to the DT is a great example of how the EDA should continue to work to meet some of its challenge.

    The 100 K guarantee, may have made the funding plan between the bank and the client a more appealing transaction for the bank. In this way the EDA and the city have stimulated or local development.

    Watch for more great visible upgrades at the Archer house.

    January 9, 2010
  2. Jim Haas said:


    It took me a few minutes to figure out what “DT” stands for. At first I though ‘delirium tremens,’ then ‘Detroit Tigers.’ ‘Downtown’ makes more sense, of course.

    Breakfast at The Tavern tomorrow with my brother-in-law, so we’ll have a chance to check out the DTPTI (downtown public toilet improvements).

    January 9, 2010
  3. Griff Wigley said:


        I’ve been a supporter of the $100K loan and your rationale here makes sense to me.

        What is the “EDA TIP plan” and how would I find it from EDA’s website so that we can link to it?

        I’ve edited the first “DT” in your comment above to make it clear that you’re referring to ‘downtown.” (Thanks, Jim Haas!)
    January 10, 2010
  4. victor summa said:

    Jim — my first comment above was riddled with typos, so I’m not surprised your confusion with the “DT” reference. I’m inundated with acronyms and symbols, and the E text process seems to support that dilemma … IMHO, :-), etc. Perhaps I should spell-out, etcetera

    My understanding, and use of that understanding/information is sort of cumulative so while I know the TIP plan, I’m not so quick to inform as to specifics. Suffice to say TIP Strategies out of Austin Texas contracted with Northfield to provide the analysis of Northfield’s specifics concerning economic development and to work-up of our discrete Comprehensive Economic Development Plan (I almost wrote “comp plan”!)

    This, at a cost of some ninety thousand dollars, came forward circa 2006.

    In my opinion, while its proclamations are not all that revelatory, there is value in a professional such as TIP telling you what is, and what is … myth – so to speak.

    So, it (the Plan) is well written and logical in the parameters it sets out as procedural for Northfield to get a foothold on the slippery slope of ED (Economic Development) … “ED” Not to be confused with the more commonly used phrase concerning sexual impotency. I digress.

    While it is lengthy, (the TIP Plan) it is readable and downloadable on the EDA’s website. I’d recommend the executive summary, along with a fine red wine.

    Go to the city’s web site – click on GOVERNMENT pull down a list and CLICK on Economic Development Authority – Opens the EDA page – up top, CLICK on Economic Development, pull down another list … and at the bottom, CLICK on Comp. Economic Development Plan.

    There you are! All that opens a 2MP (PDF)

    While certainly relevant, I see much of it as redundant and perhaps boiler plate. Certainly they did not recommend two truckloads of xynophatium to solve our dilemma..

    Lacking a two truck loads solution, we are stuck with the rigor of the EDA, the Council and the city staff to sort out our issues and find solutions.

    We (the EDA) have frequently rationalized some actions taken as being part of the TIP plan recommendations. For example, it recommends annexing 120 acres of rural lands for “industrial development”. Of course as things might occur, Northfield annexed 530 acres in Dakota County and is sniffing at another 400 or so acres in Bridgewater Township.

    Back to the Archer House deal – this was one of the more progressive moves the EDA has taken in recent history (IMHO). Unfortunately (maybe unfortunately … ?) it didn’t come about as a result of EDA initiative or the city’s ED department’s – (the latter being a separate but related organization) – As I was saying, it didn’t happen as a result of EDA initiative. It was in fact the EDA’s response to the Archer House request. Some of the city staff evidently felt the process needed their validation, and argued that the re-development of the facilities (read rest rooms) was part of a public private partnership, and wrote into the agreement that the rest rooms would remain available for public use. All spin, IMHO.

    What hotel’s public rest rooms are not “public”? Duh!

    Even without those “assurances” maintaining this primo site in our historic DT! – is a worthwhile endeavor for the EDA to support.

    Oh, did I mention the Comprehensive ED Plan from TIP identifies the historic downtown as the significant physical asset this community has, to hang its economic development appeal on?

    Not in those precise words, but read it and I’m sure you’ll agree.

    addendum! As you might discern, I’m an advocate of the citizen’s Boards and Commissions. In that regard, I encourage readers to get involved. I know for a fact there are vacancies on the Planning Commission and the Charter Commission … and very likely soon… on the EDA.

    I’d ALSO be remise if I didn’t point out the need for qualified citizens to be scouring their Christmas Card lists for their qualified friends to look at the up-coming needs in elected office. Wards one and four as well as one At Large seat are to be filled this fall. Right now the filing is in early July – my experience in these affairs is it takes a lot of scouring to assemble a good slate of candidates. Action now! If the state moves the Primary election up (a possibility) filing may even be earlier!

    FYI, those who would be replaced are: Ward 1, Pokorney; Ward Four, Denison; At Large, Pownell.

    Evaluations are available privately and will not necessarily represent the views of the management of Locally Grown.

    January 10, 2010
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks, Tracy. When Victor said “EDA TIP Plan” I was thinking that TIP was a Northfield acronym that we should all know. It’s an Austin TX consulting firm that was used 4 years ago. Silly me!

    January 10, 2010
  6. Griff Wigley said:

    And since I hate passing up an opportunity to whine… Victor: if the EDA TIP plan (aka the Northfield Comprehensive Economic Development Plan) is still relevant, why isn’t there a link to it from the EDA website?

    January 10, 2010
  7. victor summa said:

    Griff – I’m awfully close to being way out of my strong suit, Advice about the internet – but this excerpt from my previous comment is I THOUGHT the EDA web site.

    I wrote:

    Go to the city’s web site – click on GOVERNMENT pull down a list and CLICK on Economic Development Authority – Opens the EDA page – up top, CLICK on Economic Development, pull down another list … and at the bottom, CLICK on Comp. Economic Development Plan.

    Didn’t that work? Now after further perusal, I determined that if I google Nfld EDA I can get diirectly to the second level of the click litany I used above. But I have to read through a handful of “EDA Northfield” hits, and some are memos, some old info; only one obscurelly noted, is the EDA web site.

    But again … If the Comp. ED Plan was not on the EDA site, and I’d ask staff, why?. I doubt I’d get an answer you’d be satisfied with.

    I simply have the City site as a bookmark, went there and then to the EDA website – which is why I don’t understand your last question.

    Ms T Davis was the mavenette on the EDA that accomplished the EDA’s site – I believe that is accurate, along with Scott Davis, to well known Davis “E” dudes.

    Ask them for more clarification.

    As to “relevance” I’m not certain it ever was — or at least was cutting edge. I’d say more staff convenient than relevant.

    January 10, 2010
  8. Tracy Davis said:

    Victor, I was not at all involved with the reworking of the City website. Never met with the consultant, was never requested to give input. I was simply serving on the EDA at the time the City website was updated by Livefront, Inc. As far as I know, the details were handled at the staff level.

    January 10, 2010
  9. victor summa said:

    Tracy: I was referencing the EDA website, not the city web site. Who handed the details of the EDA website? Or as Griff put it: where is the link to the TIP Plan on the EDA WEbsite? I thought I answered that.

    As I recall – you certainly had a valued and informed voice on this subject at the time these were part of the EDA’s agenda. MUCH too much a part of the agenda, was my reaction (as a viewer). But nonetheless I also recall the city’s web site was thought to be a shambles by “some expert POV” and, the EDA’s web informed members – at the least you and Scott Davis, had a fair amount of comment at that time. Whether it was listened to by staff- or merely tossed a side, I can’t say. But I do feel that the website concerns Griff speaks about here, and in general, are or were in your bailiwick as a member of the EDA. If not you, then who? Dixon? Even less skilled in the use of the internet than me.

    I’m not trying to ruffle any feathers here – opportunities abound for me in that area. Still, Griff sees the website issue as a significant one. He asked me questions and I answered as best I recall – or in fact, know.

    I’ll stand behind my earlier implication, you and Scott were the EDA guru team that had website as agenda concerns. Joe Hargis might also have been involved, a little I believe the EDA looked to you for oversight on this subject. Do I have written documentation to prove these statements accurate? Nope.

    Finally, as I also recall – and I may have said this earlier today – the EDA took it upon themselves when dabbling with their Website to have some input to the city’s revision. Maybe the city, through staff, encouraged this involvement. Like, it would come up occasionally as an agenda up date issue – there’d be the usual meaningless attention, snide remarks and jokes, and then it would go away again. SOP.

    Also as I recall, like the Land Development Code fiasco, the website revamp was a relatively long term snafu. Evidently, Griff thinks it still is.

    In any event, you tell me who on the EDA had a hand in it? Who on Staff. And more interestingly, considering the turnover in staff, why don’t things change? Does no one ever take ownership?

    All this has nothing to do with the EDA’s support of the Archer House makeover.

    January 10, 2010
  10. Tracy Davis said:

    Victor, I looked through my notes regarding the EDA/website, and I believe that your memory is melding together two separate events.

    In June of 2002, when the City website was an outdated mess, I was lobbying that the EDA at least should have a useful web presence with updated information, and I had suggestions as to what that should include. It was like pulling teeth, but this was finally allowed. I believe this occurred when we were between EDA managers (Jill Bishop and Deanna Kuennen).

    In 2004, when the City website was an even more outdated mess (although the EDA “sub-site” was more current), I provided some suggestions and feedback on the details of the RFP for City website revision, which was eventually rewarded to LiveFront and completed in 2005.

    I don’t have any notes indicating that I had any particular input into that update after making suggestions for the RFP. My last year on the EDA was in 2006.

    As to staff, I remember that Deanna Kuennen did a pretty good job of keeping things updated, including helping with updates on other parts of the site that had nothing to do with the EDA, simply because she had a better understanding of how to do it. But in terms of “ownership”, there’s never been one person at City Hall designated as webmaster (at least not since 2001 or so), which I believe to be a big part of the problem.

    January 10, 2010
  11. victor summa said:

    Oh, the empirical mysterious notes. Impossible to refute. Insulting to say: Show me!

    Not necessary, as my position is you (and Scott Davis) were the only humans with any E acumen involved, so if there was to be progress on the extrapolated Web site, the leadership would have to come from you. The two incidents were linked … in my memory … and in reality … reality not necessarily being part of my memory.

    That’s what I said. I should have included a big”thank you” for all you’ve done on behalf of web sites for this town.

    To the extent your notes support what I’ve said, I’m satisfied that if anyone has an background in this idiocy, it would have to be you, as staff was not will positioned to be in a leadership position. You said as much … but Griff complains about it today and the resulting tangled web .. not to be confused with (drum roll) a working Web Site.

    I’ll not comment further unless it is to say I apologize – that is if I’m proven to be way off base. You may respond if you wish, Frankly, I think I slid in under the tag. I said it was a mystery – and add this, in response to Griff’s question about what is or isn’t on the EDA’s web site today.

    I think the TIP Plan is.

    But frankly, I doubt many “site selectors” visit our web site to see if there’s a fit in their needs and our opportunities. Be still my heart!

    I do hope the master plan for Greenvale works out,

    PS congratulations on being named the bigCheezy of the PC. Now we know where the buck stops.

    fondly, victor

    January 10, 2010
  12. Margaret Colangelo said:

    Griff – I was happy to see they were bearing down hard at the new restrooms, and that regular taxpayers will be happy! Let’s hope all inspections will pass smoothly, and the result will be a huge relief to DT visitors. The last thing DT needs is slow-moving lines for restrooms. Those new restrooms will be a load off our minds!

    January 10, 2010
  13. Griff Wigley said:

    Margaret, I appreciate your sounding a few notes of wisdom, to release all that you’ve been holding inside. If you digest any more ‘food for thought,’ I hope you push ahead with it here.

    January 10, 2010

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