Touring in place

It’s great to take a tour around new cities, but how about finding out what’s happening in your own back yard? Last week, Marshall citizens hopped on a bus and saw some of the new construction that is taking place on the outskirts of town.

Photo by Karin Elton These spec homes currently being built are being snapped up quickly says Marshall Economic Development Director Tara Onken.


Who knew Marshall has a street called Denali? Or an Amber Court or Kaleb Circle?

There is more to Marshall than you may know. Marshall residents are that much the wiser after taking a Marshall Economic Development Tour last Friday, Nov. 2.

“Sometimes we get stuck on our routes,” Marshall Economic Development Director Tara Onken said. “We leave our house, we go to work, we go to the grocery store and go home. So sometimes it’s kind of fun to see some of the development going on, which is one of the reasons we wanted to do this tour.”

A Southwest Tours bus wended its way around Marshall — mostly around the edges of the city. Onken, Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes and City Council member David Sturrock were the tour guides, passing the microphone around according to their fields of expertise.

Scheduled at three different times throughout the day, about 100 people took the tour, Onken said.

Starting at the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce, the tour bus took a right crossing Saratoga which has been undergoing construction all summer.

Byrnes said utility work has been worked on underneath the street and landscaping work above has been ongoing and it is scheduled to be finished within the next two weeks depending on the weather.

He noted the tennis courts on West College Drive were improved last year and the sidewalk is this year’s project and that has been completed.

“The tennis courts have been reduced from five to three to make room for spectators for Legion Field and provides some safety from flying balls,” he said.

Traveling down Country Club Drive, Byrnes pointed out a section near the curb of the golf course.

“Immediately on your right there is a little sign that says ‘turf grass research project,'” he said. “The University of Minnesota is involved, along with the Department of Transportation, in research on turf that can go along the roadway and stand up. People have asked what is going on there.”

Turning to the left down Fourth Street to Elizabeth, Onken said there are spec homes that were built a year or so ago with more development going on.

Onken said the trend is people purchasing houses already built.

“They don’t want to go through a yearlong process of building,” she said.

The large gray building is an 11-unit complex, Onken said.

“There is room on that site for another 11 units,” she said. The building has efficiency units for short term/extended stays, fulfilling a niche for a visiting nurse or locum doctor to stay.

Sturrock commented on a J-turn complex being built by MnDOT on 23, which is supposed to be done by Nov. 16. The project came out of a safety study commissioned by the city of Marshall, county and Marshall Area Transportation group and MnDOT.

“We’ve been fortunate to have it. These J turns do work,” Sturrock said. “The one on Saratoga Street has certainly eliminated the collisions and hazard problems that we’ve had there before.”

Driving across Highway 23 on South Saratoga to Denali, Byrnes referenced the pedestrian bridge that was erected for residents’ safety in crossing the highway.

“There are a lot of families living in this area. We did have a counter on there this past year and it recorded 36,000 passes — people walking or bicycling or taking strollers.”

“On our right is Majestic Pond,” Byrnes said. “This is one of a number of water retention ponds around the city. Not only are they there for esthetics, but more importantly for water management. This is an area where the water ends up flowing through what’s called Ditch 70 and into the Cottonwood River.”

Driving on Cougar Court, Byrnes noted that “Patriot Park is one of our newer parks in the community. Parks in a residential area are important. The construction that is going on right now is a sidewalk connection to the neighborhood. Restroom facilities will be constructed as well as a playground.”

Farther on, “a tri-plex is being built and all the units are already sold,” said Onken, adding that was a testament to the need for housing in Marshall.

“Up on the left here are two or three modular homes that are going in on that property by Iowa State Boulevard,” said Byrnes.

Approaching the Aldi store now under construction, Onken said it was a “$2 million building permit. It has five aisles — a normal store. It has 13,000 square feet of selling space and is due to open the first week of December.” She noted there is stormwater retention underneath the parking lot.

Commenting on Tall Grass Liquor on Boyer Drive, Byrnes said the newly-built municipal liquor store has been “phenomenally successful.”

The city just hired a new manager, Eric Luther, and the amount of sales have increased, Byrnes said — “it’s a nice, spacious store.”

Continuing on Boyer Drive, Onken said Menard’s has recently expanded — adding some warehouse space in the back.

“Not a small decision as it means moving that entire road,” she said.

Onken pointed out The Gym, formerly Dickie’s Barbecue, which recently underwent a “fairly extensive remodel on the inside.” Driving farther on Clarice one can see the Sleep Inn, which is “the newest hotel in Marshall.”

Traveling on state Highway 23, Onken directed the tourists’ attention to the former Kmart building. It now houses Unclaimed Freight and in “the spring it will have a whole new front facade,” she said. “There will be an Ashley Furniture and the right half will be developed into another retail opportunity — we can’t say the name yet. There is also some potential for the Schweser space. Look for announcements for construction there coming soon.”

Turning east onto state Highway 19, Byrnes pointed out a retention pond that is in “the shape of the state of Minnesota.” He mentioned the newest softball complex on Tiger Drive, which is “spectator friendly in that the concession stand and the viewing area is elevated 6 feet so you can see what’s going on.” Also under construction is a playground.

Then there is the Red Baron Arena which Onken said has “been open for a couple years now as the events continue to get booked and grow; we’re seen a number of events. Our tournaments have been filled to capacity. Last year it was used 323 days out of 365 days and we only look for that to increase this calendar year; over 100,000 people went through the doors last year.” The venue has welcomed not only hockey, which it was designed to do, but craft fairs and vendor shows, the circus, gun shows and wedding receptions.

“Most likely a hotel will be built here,” Onken said. “We’ve been talking with two or three hotel developers interested in Marshall who have asked for information about the Marshall community. We’ll see where that goes.”

Driving on County Road 33 by the Archer Daniels Midland corn plant, Byrnes pointed out the pump station which provides water as well as private wells and water from MMU.

ADM grinds 200,000 bushels of corn every single day and it’s all trucked in,” he said. “ADM produces ethanol, sweeteners, corn gluten that gets trucked out.”

Near the MERIT (Minnesota Emergency Response and Industrial Training) Center is the MERIT Drivers Training Track which has a primary use for law enforcement to practice pursuit skills. “They have to drive 80 miles an hour and then go into a skid,” Byrnes said. “It was half built and then will double in length thanks to a $3 million appropriation.”

Onken and Byrnes discussed the industrial park, Sonstegaard Industrial Park, which has Runnings Corporation distribution warehouse and Action Manufacturing among its occupants. Commerce Park is the latest industrial park and is currently being developed. It has almost “160 acres and after developing the streets, it will be 130 developable acres,” said Onken.

As the tour ended, the bus drove down Third Street in downtown which is seeing a resurgence of shops including Nessa’s Naturals, Ebenezer and Nettie’s.