Tag Archives: The Crossing

Bank forecloses on Mendota property

A major corner property on Bridge Square in downtown Northfield will soon be back on the market and at least one developer is already showing some interest in buying.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Brett Reese, CEO of Northfield Automation and real estate developer, said on Tuesday. “Given the location, and what it means for Northfield, I do have an interest as a potential developer.”

The property at 19 and 25 Bridge Square houses the Community Resource Bank. Mendota Homes Inc. of Little Canada bought it in October 2005 for $1.25 million. John Mathern, president of Mendota Homes, received formal notice dated Sept. 17 that lender First National Bank would foreclose on the property.

The property has been appraised at $1.1 million, but a First National Bank representative said it could sell for less than that.

According to a notice published on Saturday in the Northfield News, Mathern owed $1,018,987 at the time of foreclosure. The original amount of the mortgage was $960,000, the notice read. The sale is scheduled for Oct. 21.

Mathern had once intended to raze the structures to make way for a mixed-use, four story building. He planned to fill his new Bridge Square buildings with small living units, retail and office space.

In September 2005, Mathern told a Northfield News reporter of his plans, “It’s really a show piece at that corner, but we knew it had to be. It only had one direction to go.”

Reese said he had also at one time considered buying the property to renovate it into a multi-use building. The Northfield native said he is seeing the recent slump in the housing market “bleeding into the commercial side.”

“It’s a tough market out there and it’s much harder to finance projects,” Reese said. “People are more cautious. I was talking to a contractor who said he used to build eight or 10 homes a year. This year, he just built one.”

Victor Summa, a member of the Economic Development Authority, said he was surprised at the news of the foreclosure. At the same time, he had believed the project may have been ambitious.

Ross Currier, former planning commissioner and current executive director of the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation said others shared that view as well, but Currier was hopeful a developer would still see the property’s lowered price as an opportunity.

“Perhaps at a lower sales price and with a lower-cost development plan, something could move forward quickly,” Currier said.

Mathern owns The Crossing condominiums off State Highway 3 and two nearby commercial properties. Financial constraints have plagued Mathern throughout the development of the the higher-end condominiums, and businesses have yet to fill much of his commercial property.

A spokesperson from Community Resource Bank said customers would not notice any change as a result of the building foreclosure. The bank has additional offices in Northfield, Cannon Falls and Roseville.

Update 10/7 I spoke with Mr. Mathern since posting this story and I want to be more specific about the information in the second to last paragraph of the story. Mr. Mathern owns a number of properties in the city and he would not divulge every detail about all his present and past investments. However, he does own The Crossing and the adjacent 8 units of commercial space. Businesses occupy four of those units and four units are vacant. Mr. Mathern once owned the “Q-block” commercial buildings across the street, but has since sold that property.

Also, Mr. Mathern said his plans to build a structure at the Community Resource Bank site would have attempted to preserve the front, concrete part of the existing building because of its historical value.

Mathern also clarified the term “foreclosure” in this circumstance by saying, “I gave the First National Bank a deed and it became their building in July. In addition to the deed, I also agreed to a voluntary foreclosure that allowed the bank to gain full legal control in two months. By cooperating with the bank, it avoided costly legal expenses for both parties and, as there was no immediate plan that could save the building from foreclosure, it was wise to do it voluntarily.”

Minnesota-grown flowers at cousin Jane’s Forget-Me-Not Florist

Jane Williams, co-owner of Forget-Me-Not Florist here in Northfield with her hubby Jim (right photo below), is my second cousin on my mother’s side… the Lauers of St. Paul, then Mendota Heights, then Rosemount while I was growing up in Eagan. (I went to elementary school in the late 50s/early 60s with Jane and her sibs at St. Peter’s in Mendota. My mother, Audre Wigley, taught 5th grade there and had many of the Lauer kids in her class over the years.)

Jane Williams, Griff Wigley Forget-Me-Not florist, Northfield Jim Williams, Jane Williams

minnesotagrownlogoI stopped by their Northfield florist shop (Water St. at 5th) yesterday to order some flowers (for my sweetie!) and to see how the the 5th St. construction was impacting their business. (Ouch on the latter.)

I’d planned to order flowers via their Northfield florists website (for delivery to Robbie’s hotel room in Salt Lake City) but Jane gave me a money-saving tip: browse the site to find what I wanted, then phone them with the order.

Jane said a large percentage of their flowers have always been supplied by Minnesota growers, part of the Minnesota Grown Program coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Banks foreclose on The Crossing; now the City should clean up the surrounding property

Today’s Nfld News has this front page story: Crossing development is in foreclosure.

City Administrator Al Roder confirmed Tuesday evening that he was notified late last week of the proceedings begun by the project developer’s creditor, Highland Bank… Roder said he wasn’t certain if the entire project is being foreclosed on. At least one other bank held a portion of Mendota Homes’ loan for the project.

Data request on The Crossing I got wind of the notification last Friday and filed a data request on Monday (left photo). Thus far, I don’t have the documentation but I did speak by phone to Community Development manager Brian O’Connell yesterday and he confirmed it.

I asked Brian if he knew the status of the Jimmy Johns restaurant that was scheduled to break ground the week of May 12th. He didn’t.

I suggested to him that now might be a good time for the City to step in and do the cleanup on the property surrounding the buildings there, both for the sake of the residents and businesses there, as well as for downtown. I took these photos this morning.

The Crossing The Crossing The Crossing The Crossing The Crossing 

The Crossing The Crossing The Crossing The Crossing The Crossing

The weeds are tall, construction debris is still there from April of 2007, and Xmas tree sale leftovers can still be found in the parking lot. (Full disclosure, again: we have money down on a condo there but are refusing to close. Mendota Homes is suing us and the case is now going to arbitration.)

Update 6/12 at 9:15am:  Here are PDFs of the photocopies of:

1. Letters from Highland Bank to John Mathern/Mendota Homes and to the City of Nfld.


2. Memo from Community Development Director Brian O’Connell to the City Council.


Criticisms of me

A person who I think I once moderated for violating our discussion guidelines has been trying to attach comments to my blog posts about Representative Journalism, criticizing me for my behavior and mistakes, and asserting that my participation in the RepJ project will be detrimental.

I’ve not allowed these new comments to be posted because I can’t verify who the person is. They don’t answer my email, in which I offer to talk to them by phone or meet in person. But I thought I’d post the criticisms here because there are elements of truth to them that others might be concerned about and it might help to have my responses all in one place.

Certainly Griff was upfront about the controversial and derogatory LG posts that he has had to remove? Like these two right here?

The URL/link they provided doesn’t work. I’m assuming they’re referring to comments that they made that I removed for violating our guidelines, but I’m not sure.

Also he told you about told [sic] the meetings with the Nfld News where they told him to stop plagarizing [sic] them or face lawsuit? Go ahead and call the Nfld News to confirm what i’ve said about their meetings with him. Plagarism? Is that what this “Representative Journalism” is all about? Or just those that you support?

When I was with NCO/Northfield.org, I did get a letter from then Northfield News Publisher Renee Huckle, asking me to stop linking to their articles that required a paid subscription to access. I wasn’t plagiarizing these articles but linking to them for online discussion purposes, like I do now.  I was also copying/pasting news headlines and teaser paragraphs from their website, and then linking to their news page as a way to encourage people to go to their site to read the full articles. But I was wrong not to ask their permission to do either of these, and of course, I stopped immediately.

About the times Griff has been forced to redact completely copied articels [sic] from Northfield.org because he copied them?

They’re referring to this blog post where I was trying to promote a youth-made video that Adam Gurno blogged about on Northfield.org. I linked to Adam’s post but I didn’t get his permission to replicate the video in my post. I removed it and apologized to Adam both in an update to the blog post and in an attached comment.

About his lawsuits within the city?

I’m not suing anybody so I’m assuming he means Mendota Homes suing my wife and me for not closing on a condo at The Crossing.

I’m happy to answer questions and respond to any other criticisms from anyone related to what I do/have done here on Locally Grown.

Northfield News on The Crossing

The Crossing Northfield News reporter Suzy Rook wrote a story this week titled Crossing into a new phase: Development is behind schedule as red tape, housing market cause delays.

One of Northfield’s largest developments, The Crossing, is a project teetering on the edge.
Project developer Mendota Homes has struggled for months to sell its residential and commercial condos, it’s more than $30,000 behind on its property taxes and is considering modifying plans for a second residential structure in a soft housing market.

I’m not going to opinionate much here. My wife and I signed a purchase agreement on a condo in March, 2006, and have opted to not close. But since this development involves public policy and public money, others may want to discuss it.

Final Course Cafe to open now open closed in The Crossing Business Center

Kurt Larson of Larson’s Printing attached a comment yesterday afternoon in the Ole Store to reopen? blog post discussion, saying:

Just noticed a banner for a new eatery at Mendota Homes corner building. Anyone know what it is?

John Thomas follow with two comments:

I saw it this morning on my way out of town as well. I will stop by on my way back, and find out what it says.

The sign says: The Final Course Cafe, opening January 2008. Soups, Paninis, Salads, Tortes, Truffles, Coffees, Ice Creams – [I’ve edited that list slightly to coincide with the banner in the photo below – Griff]

Northern Letter blogger Bill Ostrem followed with:

The Final Course Cafe, at the Crossing, will be run (and owned?) by Dean and Rose Sorenmann. I know that Dean is an astute gourmand – some would say a foodie – so it’s likely to offer good fare.

Final Course Cafe Final Course Cafe banner Final Course Cafe 
So I snapped these photos today. Click to enlarge. Thanks, gents!

Update 12/16, 9:15 PM: The restaurant has a web site: Final Course Cafe.

Update 02/11: They opened last Monday.

From the LoGro Archives, Dec 1, 2007: Wondering about the Xmas trees for sale at The Crossing

Xmas trees for sale Ross and I noticed yesterday that someone’s preparing to sell Christmas trees on the empty lots at The Crossing. We’ve both chatted a bit with folks about this but haven’t been able to determine who’s selling the trees.

Some people commented that it’s good to see the empty lots being put to use, especially with something as visually pleasing as Christmas trees and antique tractors.

Others commented that if the vendor for these trees is not from the Northfield area, it undermines the sale of trees from local merchants such as Lansing Hardware, Just Food, etc. And since The Crossing is a development that’s getting Tax Increment Financing (TIF) via the City, this seems inappropriate.

I’m trying to blog this with a neutral-point-of-view, wikipedia style since all three of us have conflicts of interest regarding The Crossing. (I’m being sued by the developer, Ross used to work for the developer, and Tracy continues to sleep with my attorney, though it’s not clear what she’s hoping to gain from that.)

The Crossing gets some landscaping; Mendota Homes ponders market/student rental for second building

The Crossing landscaping The Crossing landscaping

Landscapers near me were spreading black dirt around The Crossing yesterday. Decorative bricks/blocks were also delivered and also swimming pool installation started by uvpools.com, if you are looking for swimming pool go check them out.  The developer, Mendota Homes, has been under considerable pressure for several months from the NDDC, the City of Northfield, and new condo owners to improve the condition of the property. See the Sept. 26 blog post on the update on The Crossing for more details.

The Oct. 3 issue of the Northfield News had a story about the Oct. 1 City Council meeting titled Crossing update turns to quiz of mayor: Councilmen unclear about Lansing’s concern over project in which a change from condos to rental for the delayed second building was discussed:

Mendota Homes is expected to come back before councilors this fall to revise its plans. The developers appear to be leaning toward rental housing for the second building. In a letter from financing agent Piper Jaffray distributed at Monday’s meeting, President Pat O’Leary said his company understands the rental housing is to be “a mix of market rental and student rental.” Any changes would need to come back before councilors for approval.

The Oct. 6 issue of the Northfield News had an editorial titled Council should be proactive about content of Crossing:

During all these meetings, it appears the city hasn’t moved beyond the question of whether it’s going to be financially liable to how it can work with the developer to get something done. Part of the deal with the project is that any changes Mendota makes to The Crossing plan must be approved by the council. We think the council’s role should be far more proactive than that. Perhaps the council should tap into the expertise of the community to present creative and innovative ideas to Mathern for completing The Crossing, rather than waiting for Mendota Homes to reappear with something that may or may not fully serve the city.

The Crossing: an update

In an article in today’s Northfield News on tensions at City hall:

…Lansing is pressing for the council to discuss The Crossings [sic], a business and residential condominium project along the Cannon River. Lansing has asked about the city’s liability for the stalled project. Though city staffers this summer reviewed the project for councilors and stressed its financing agreement doesn’t jeopardize the city, Lansing, in recent weeks, has again asked for detailed information on the project. That request, Lansing said, was accurate, pointing out that an update on the project would soon come before council.

John Mathern
John Mathern, CEO of Mendota Homes, the developer of The Crossing, appeared on Wayne Eddy’s KYMN radio show a month ago.

This first hour primarily involves discussion of Mathern’s personal and professional background.

The second hour primarily involves discussion of The Crossing.

For more background:

Northfield News:

  • July 11: New plan for second Crossing building explained
    “Mendota Homes will ask city council to allow luxury apartments in the second of The Crossing’s two residential buildings. The request is designed to keep the project moving. Mendota Homes’ President John Mathern said Monday he plans to return to the city council later this month with a revised plan for the project’s second phase.”

Locally Grown:

Mendota Homes doesn’t provide updates on the news page of The Crossing, nor does it provide any photos of the development, only sketches. On the page for The Crossing on the Mendota Homes’ website, there are interior photos of the temporary model that was constructed on the SW corner of Hwy 3 and 2nd St. (since sold), plus two photos of the construction of the residential condo building.

I walked around the exterior of the property yesterday and took these 42 photos. See the album or the slideshow below.

(Full disclosure: my wife and I signed a purchase agreement on a condo in March, 2006, but thus far, have opted to not close.)