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Fergus Falls' vacant Kirkbride hospital to be redeveloped

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Kirkbride in Fergus Fall
This June 9, 2012, photo shows people at at SummerFest outside the Kirkbride in Fergus Fall, Minn. People who want to preserve the former state hospital, also known as the Kirkbride, are organizing a "group hug" of the building on Saturday. The city has set a demolition deadline for the building, which dates to the late 1800s but has fallen into disuse.
AP Photo/The Daily Journal, Marie Noplos

Fergus Falls city officials have agreed to allow a developer from Georgia to convert a vacant regional treatment center into a $41 million facility featuring apartments, a hotel, a gym, and restaurants.

The Kirkbride hospital was built in the 1890s. The structure has been a long-standing controversy in Fergus Falls, with some wanting the structure torn down, while others favored renovation and development.

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"It's easy to get kind of disillusioned and say, 'Who can make anything of all the square footage in a town of 14,000 people in rural Minnesota?'" Fergus Falls City Administrator Mark Sivert said. "I think a lot of just didn't have that vision and fortunately, there were others that just kept pushing that and did and could convince the council that 'Yeah, this is the direction to go.'"

The city plans to sell the 35-acre site to Historic Properties for $1, and the project is expected to bring 190 permanent jobs to the city, Sivert said.

Renovations are expected to begin in 2014.