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OUR VIEW: Downtown gallery: Tailwind, MSU bring nice addition downtown

Tim Krohn
The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Date: August 10, 2015

MANKATO – When it comes to entertainment, bustling downtown Mankato has all its bases covered with bars and restaurants.

Now, thanks to developer Kyle Smith of Tailwind Group and Minnesota State University’s Department of Art, the City Center will be providing something more for those interested in the arts.

Tailwind is behind several new buildings downtown and the group provided a partial donation of prime retail space in one new Front Street building for the art gallery.

Even with the space, MSU had difficulty finding funding for finishing the raw space for a gallery. Tailwind pitched in by offering to construct restrooms and MSU has committed to pay for finishing the rest of the space.

“It’s not just us, but a lot of people in the downtown corridor wish for downtown to be more than just bars and restaurants,” Smith told The Free Press.

Tailwind is constructing a trio of multi-story buildings on the block bordered by Front, Riverfront Drive, Cherry and Warren streets. The $30 million Tailwind project — which tops $40 million when a related public parking ramp is included — is the largest private investment in downtown Mankato in decades.

It comes as the area has seen a dramatic revitalization in the past decade or so. Private investors have restored or built several buildings, including U.S. Bank, the Graif Building, Tandem Bagels and the office tower by Wells Fargo. And business and civic leaders have worked hard to improve the atmosphere and provide more things for people to do. The walking sculpture tour, live performances downtown, the addition of Riverside Park and other events have made the area a place people want to work and visit.

And the city has done well in making improvements to the area, including pedestrian malls and the currently underway project to create a grand lawn across from the entrance to the civic center.

The new art gallery, which could be open by the end of the year, will add one more piece to the mix in downtown.