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Photo by Ryan Howard

The Columbus City Council isn’t happy with the changes to the Bare Home building’s exterior from the original proposal, which the city says was changed without council consultation.

Several Columbus City Council members were frustrated with Bare Home’s Josh Pribyl at the council’s Oct. 9 meeting. The Columbus distribution facility Pribyl has been building for the online bedding retailer at 14744 Hornsby St. NE is almost finished. However, the outside of the building does not look like the plan the council had previously approved.

At the meeting, Pribyl presented a new drawing of the building with two blue stripes. His hope was that the stripes that wrapped around the building would satisfy the council, but they did not. Columbus City Attorney Bill Griffith referred to the added stripes as “Band-Aids.”

The approved plan for Bare Home was to use a maintenance-free precast exposed aggregate in gray tones on the exterior of the building. Without consulting the city, Pribyl changed the design to a smooth precast painted panel and metal-clad building featuring white and gray tones with blue metal accents. Pribyl said he wanted the building to have a high-tech look like the Apple store in Los Angeles. However, the original plan with more muted earth tones blended in better with the city’s vision of harmony with natural surroundings. Councilwomen Janet Hegland and Shelly Lofgren said Bare Home was thinking about its branding and not considering what Columbus wanted.

Hegland made it clear she did not like the unexpected white and electric blue building that she felt practically glowed in the dark. She was also concerned about durability, since the paint used on the outside of the building only had a one-year warranty. She didn’t want to see the paint peeling off the building that was supposed to be maintenance-free.

Lofgren said she didn’t mind the front of the building. However, she said the back of the building was a stark, angular, 100,000-square-foot shoe box that didn’t fit in with the countryside. She thought the blue stripes added insult to injury. If the company expands as planned, she said, she could not imagine two white buildings next to each other. She called the current building a shock to the people driving on I-35.

Pribyl said he did not understand what the council wanted. He felt he had already tried meet the city’s expectations by adding trees and landscaping. Hegland, Lofgren, and City Administrator Elizabeth Mursko started offering suggestions, but Griffith said it was not up to the council to design the building. He suggested Pribyl bring in more proposals for the city to consider. Mayor Jesse Preiner told Pribyl none of this would have happened if he would have brought his changes in for pre-approval.

“You’re projecting we’re responsible for this, and we’re not,” he told Pribyl.

Once the building glass that is still under construction is completed and has passed inspection, the council agreed to issue Bare Home a temporary certificate of occupancy so it could start operating as a business. Members also agreed Bare Home could move forward with the blue panel on the front of the building. The discussion about what to do with the back of the building will continue at an upcoming meeting.

Relocated business

William and Thomas Norton appeared before the council for a site plan review of their proposed 30,064-square-foot Viking Industrial Center. They would like to start building it in the spring on roughly 4 acres at 9203 Lake Drive NE. The building will have a gray and white maintenance-free exterior. Viking Industrial Center sells supplies like orange traffic cones, head lamps for crews, sweeping compound, and first aid kits. In addition to the retail space with an attached warehouse, the business headquarters would be housed in the Columbus building.

Thomas Norton said between two and 12 semitrucks would come to the building daily between 5 a.m. and 4 p.m. Many vans and pickup trucks would be traveling to and from the store during business hours. The council questioned the pair’s reasons for wanting to build at that location, feeling that getting in and out of the parking lot could be hazardous there. After exiting the parking lot, the vehicles would have to go to Lino Lakes to make a U-turn legally. To avoid going to Lino Lakes, the council thought, drivers may try to turn earlier on the busiest street in town where the shoulder wasn’t wide enough.

In addition to the access problems, Lofgren thought the building was too big for the retail area. She wondered why the business didn’t want to be in the industrial park, since two-thirds of the building would be a warehouse. Thomas Norton said he wanted this location to be closer to the freeway than the business’s other locations. Although the retail space is small, it would have a large inventory. Eventually, he thought, it would expand the retail space into the warehouse. He said he didn’t want the retail store to be in a warehouse area, and other available spaces weren’t big enough. Councilmen Denny Peterson and Jeff Duraine also thought it would be a good fit once the business and city worked out the access problems. The council decided to continue the discussion at an upcoming meeting.

Levy

At a workshop in September, the Columbus City Council went over the 2020 preliminary levy. The 2019 levy was approximately $3.15 million. The preliminary 2020 levy is $3.32 million. According to City Administrator Elizabeth Mursko, the preliminary 2020 levy for Columbus is 6.12% higher than it was this year. The median value of a home in Columbus is $230,500; the average value of a home in Columbus is $242,800. Because of the residential and commercial growth in the city, Mursko estimated that homeowners with similar types of homes can expect to pay about $8 more in property taxes in 2020 than they did in 2019.

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