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Vacant city property draws proposal for day spa, shop

Published: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 12:46 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 9:14 a.m. CDT

Dan and Tina Ehler own a successful day spa business just outside of Kellogg, but per a proposal they submitted to the Newton City Council on Monday night, that business could soon find a new home in Newton.

The Ehlers’ proposal, which was submitted “just prior to the meeting,” Director of Finance and Development and Acting City Administrator Bryan Friedman said, was the sole formal interest received regarding the potential sale of a property owned by the city at 2009 First Ave. E., an old brick home adjacent to the tennis courts at Aurora Heights Park. The home, which used to house the RSVP Program, has been vacant for six years as councilor Noreen Otto pointed out in the council discussion.

Dan Ehlers explained before the council that the couple’s plan was two-fold: they would both renovate the home to its “original grandeur,” per the proposal document and construct two buildings behind the home to house a day spa and salon in addition to storage and space for refurbishing antiques.

“They would be gutting it out and restoring it to its century-old history,” Friedman elaborated. “Then, on the acre ground behind the house, they would construct two commercial buildings for a day spa and antique shop. They would be ensuring that at least a quarter million dollars is invested into the property.” 

“The commercial enterprise would consist of a day spa, roughly 2,400 square feet to begin with, and a retail area attached to that for antiques, crafts, collectables,” Ehler said. “The spa area would be rented out to employees — instead of hiring they would be rented out. My wife has a day spa over by Kellogg now, so we’d be moving that to the area in Newton.” 

The proposed initial investment into the home sits at $125,000 while the Ehlers would allocate an additional $214,000 for the building and furnishing of the two additional buildings, one 40’x60’ and one 30’x40’. This total investment of $359,000 aligns with the city’s Purchase and Redevelopment Agreement which requires the property to show a minimum value of $250,000, assessed in both January of 2014 (residential improvements) and 2015 (commercial improvements).

“This is a significant investment (of) well over $350,000,” Friedman said of the proposal. “The purchase price is $20,000, which is somewhat of a low purchase price for the property, but with the investment and commitment to an increased value, that would offset that lower price. In addition, they’ve agreed to forgo the tax abatement on the new improvement value ... that would generate over $7,500 in taxes each year, and the property currently isn’t generating anything.”

As the council unanimously approved the proposal from the Ehlers, sale of the property will begin moving forward throughout the next month.

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