One of Anoka County’s most historic homes is set to get new owners.
Liz and Tim Koch run the popular Mad Hatter restaurant and tea house at the Woodbury House and have leased the property from the city since 2013. The house at 1632 S. Ferry St. overlooks the Rum River near downtown and has been visited by governors and Civil War soldiers since being built in 1857.
Now the Kochs are looking to buy the two-story structure and the 2.3 acres it sits on from the city.
The City Council appears poised to approve that sale Tuesday after approving a first reading of the purchase agreement Feb. 4. The Kochs have offered to pay $807,000 for the property, equal to its appraised value last spring, according to the city.
“They’ve put a lot of their own blood, sweat and tears and sweat equity and cash into this project,” Council Member Brian Wesp said of the Kochs at the meeting.
Some City Council members expressed concern about an easement on the property’s bluff line and its use as a potential trail connection along the Rum River. The proposed purchase agreement restricts the city’s ability to use that easement as a trail while the restaurant is there, unless the owners agree otherwise.
The issue spurred a 4-1 vote on the sale, with Council Member Erik Skogquist dissenting. “I think it’s too shortsighted of us to brush this aside and say we’re not going to allow that,” Skogquist said at the meeting.
Others pointed out that the trail could go around the property rather than through it.
The property had fallen into disrepair when the Anoka City Council voted to buy it from the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority for $330,000 in 2013. City officials then approved a lease with the Kochs to relocate their Mad Hatter Tea Room from Main Street to the riverfront home.
“We’re making back every penny that the city has invested in the property,” City Manager Greg Lee said at the meeting, citing a profit of nearly $42,000 if the sale goes through. “It’s a win-win all the way around.”
Over the years, the Woodbury House changed hands from former state legislators to local families and civic leaders.
Dwight Woodbury, a state legislator, bought the house from Anoka’s first doctor in 1860.