A push by the city of Winona to bring jobs and development to its historic riverfront has gotten a boost from hometown employer Fastenal Co., which on Friday announced plans to build a new office center downtown.
The company, which manufacturers industrial and construction supplies, said the space will be designed for 400 to 600 employees as the company grows. Construction is expected to begin in late 2019 or early 2020.
Chief Executive Daniel Florness said Fastenal needed more and different space for the types of jobs it expects to add in the future. The company deliberately chose to support the multifaceted revitalization of the waterfront area even though it had space at other properties around town.
“It’s a beautiful setting on the Mississippi River,” Florness said about the location, which encompasses a full city block. “Having a viable downtown where there’s activity, some residential development and recreation — it creates the opportunities for young and old to work in a viable downtown setting.”
Other downtown projects include a $2 million overhaul of Levee Park, expected to be completed in June. The park serves as a gateway to downtown with a farmers market, music venues, picnic areas and bike trails. Also in the works is a redevelopment of the Masonic Theater, several housing projects, a preschool to serve more low-income families and a proposed mixed-use project that could include a hotel.
Steve Sarvi, city manager, said a project the size of Fastenal’s fortifies the company’s deep roots in the community and will help draw more development to the district.
“This was one of the missing pieces,” he said. “Having that number of people coming and going downtown should help kick-start restaurants and retail opportunities in the area.”
Fastenal was founded in Winona in 1967 as a seller of nuts and bolts through custom vending machines. It now is a $4.4 billion public company with 21,000 employees across the world.
The company spent a couple of years quietly purchasing six properties between the Mississippi River Bridge and Second Street, spending about $3.3 million.
No public money was used in the acquisition.
Company officials are in the early stages of design and planning but said the new office space, which is not expected to replace current headquarters, will complement the historic nature of the downtown.
The project will begin a public approval process in the coming months and could qualify for tax incentives as part of Congress’ new tax plan.