One of Chaska's oldest houses will soon begin a short but important journey that will carry it to a site in the city's historic district.

The City Council last week approved spending $242,000 to move the Riedele House — built in 1884 adjacent to the owner's brickyard business — from 3250 Chaska Blvd. to the Walnut Street Historic District. The cost is more than the $150,000 the city initially expected to spend but about 25 percent less than a bid of $318,000 it received last fall.

The new winning bid was submitted by Thein Moving Co. Inc., which city staff said has extensive experience in moving houses, including ones with historic value.

"We do have a better result," Assistant City Administrator Jeffrey Dahl told the council. He said city planners may not have understood the complexity of relocating the house when they first estimated the project's cost and were surprised when the initial bid came in high.

Besides rebidding the relocation job, the city also looked at alternatives for the cream-colored brick house, including keeping it at its current location or tearing it down.

Keeping the house on the existing site in Firemen's Park would have required revisions in the park redevelopment project that's now underway. Changing the park plan would have cost $50,000, and building something else to fill the spot reserved for the Riedele House on Walnut Street would have cost another $60,000.

Demolishing the house and building something else on Walnut Street would have cost $85,000. That option also would have been at odds with expectations of the city's Historical Preservation Commission, the Chaska Historical Society and Minnesota's Historic Preservation Office.

An easier-to-back plan

The house is named for Andreas Riedele, a German immigrant who came to Minnesota in 1855 and went into the brickmaking business in Chaska in 1881. He built the house in 1884. It was occupied by two generations of his family and eventually passed to different owners when they acquired Riedele's brick business.

Council members expressed relief that the new bid gave them the opportunity to preserve the house rather than tear it down.

"I couldn't support [a move] before, but now can at the lesser price," said Council Member Jay Rohe.

Two older blighted houses on Walnut Street will be demolished to make way for the Riedele House. Some of the vacant space will be used to create 30 to 40 new parking spots. The Riedele House has been vacant for about six months but recently had commercial space on its ground floor and an apartment on the second floor. Dahl said the house will be restored to that same use in its new location, and the city expects to recoup some of the relocation cost by selling or leasing the house after it is moved. He said the city believes the house could be sold for about $200,000.

The move will happen in two phases. In the next few weeks, the house will be hoisted off its existing site and moved to the end of the Firemen's Park parking lot. The city expects to move it to Walnut Street in August after the site is graded and a foundation for the relocated house is dug.

Susan Feyder • 612-673-1723