Rail Corridor a potential site for Sanford Wellness Center

The Bemidji City Council discussed the Rail Corridor and a potential for the Sanford Wellness Center to be constructed there during their work session Monday.

Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota CEO Susan Jarvis said Sanford Health would invest $10 million over time into a concept that would improve the health and wellness of the community and be affordable to be used by all citizens. 

Greater Bemidji’s Dave Hengel said they would initiate a roundtable of investors that would act as the developer for the project, which is crucial to move ahead with grant programs to clean up the brownfield site.

The rail corridor has a long history of industrial use, with soil contamination the costliest to clean up. The St. Paul Port Authority has been on contract with the city for the clean up and planning piece of it, but City Manager Nate Mathews says that due to COVID, an entire year of planning and coordination was lost.

The meeting was largely to discuss the idea, no formal action was taken during the meeting.

New mayor Jorge Prince will be on the project advisory committee after the council votes on the consent agenda during the next meeting.

A consensus was reached to allow leaseholders within the rail corridor to renew their leases until a solid plan and a timeline for developing the corridor was reached.

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