The developer for the highly visible Block 52 looks to have been identified.

Four developers were interviewed with a goal of redeveloping the prime downtown property, bordered by Broadway Street to the north, River Street to the south, Highway 25 to the east and Walnut Street to the West.

The Monticello Economic Development Authority was scheduled to approve a preliminary developer’s agreement with The Beard Group, a Hopkins-based real estate development company.

But EDA staff asked that action of the developers agreement be tabled until a future meeting.

“We’ve been making progress negotiating a preliminary developers agreement with the Baird Group, but there are a couple key things that are challenging points,” Jim Thares, Monticello economic development director, told members of the EDA at the group’s June meeting.

The preliminary developers agreement is an initial agreement between the EDA and developer to continue discussion and negotiations to define the terms and conditions of a formal Block 52 developers agreement.

It’s not that coming to an agreement is going to be a failure, Thares said. City staff needs to talk some aspects of the agreement through with the city attorney, he said.

City staff would also like to meet with representatives of the Baird Group one more time.

“We have only talked to them two times- a week before you interviewed them and at the interview,” Thares said.

The city wants to meet with Baird one more time to make sure the city and developer are on the same page, he said.

“The developers agreement contemplates doing some of that, but we just want to make sure we get the terms right so you don’t have to amend it or re-approve it in a month or two,” Thares said.

A Small Area Study adopted by the EDA and City in 2017 focuses on the redevelopment of Block 52 as a key cog in the revitalization of Downtown Monticello. To date, either the City of Monticello or its Economic Development Authority own 55 percent of Block 52, according to documents prepared by the City of Monticello. 

The City’s vision is to have residential housing on Block 52, with entertainment, dining and retail on the ground floor of any development.

“It is strongly believed that a development modeled after the Beard concept will make a positive contribution to Monticello’s community and economic vitality,” staff wrote.

According to the city staff memo, The Baird Group envisions a full-block development in a horizontal mixed-use form with side-by-side residential and commercial development components.

Baird’s preliminary plans call for 95 luxury multi-family residential units on the west half of the block that would occupy the three stories of the building over an underground parking garage. Plans also call for a rooftop terrace with a view of West Bridge Park and Mississippi River. The commercial development includes a stand-alone restaurant in the northeast corner of the block and a sizable commercial building on the southeast corner of the block.

The Baird Group has stated that the residential aspect of its proposed development would be the focus of the project, the report states.  

The developer is finishing a similar 152-unit project named Birdtown Flats that will open this coming Fall in Robbinsdale. It is also the developer of the 81-unit Victoria Flats in Victoria, 140-unit 5 Central Apartments in Osseo, and the 53-unit Marketplace & Main apartment, retail and townhouse development in Hopkins. The Baird Group is also a developer of a 260-resident townhome and retail development called Village Creek in Brooklyn Park and the Village at Circle Pines development, a 30-acre mixed-use development consisting of 292 homes and 98,000 square feet of retail space. The Hopkins Entertainment Center, Excelsior Tech Center and Broadway Court development in Robbinsdale are also Baird Group projects.

Reach Jeff Hage at



Jeff Hage is the editor of the Monticello Times newspaper in Monticello, Minn. He came to Monticello after seven years at our sister papers in Princeton and Milaca.

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