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Longtime apartment renovator Jim Larson is selling the last of his Minneapolis buildings as he turns his energies to Ortonville, a lake town on Minnesota's border with South Dakota. (Edi. note: The following appeared in the May 26, 2003, issue of the Mpls.. Star Tribune, on the front page of the Business Section.) Photographs by Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune Jim Larson steered his recently purchased boat around Big Stone Lake in Ortonvilie. Larson believes the area Is poised to take off. man with pl n Brick storefronts gne the main street through downtown Or- tonvllie. Though slightly frayed around the edges, the downtown Is Just a few hundred yards from picturesque Big Stone Lake. ORTONVILLE, MINN. -- A quarter-century ago, lim Lar- son bucked the odds to be- come the single largest reno- vator of inner-city apartment buildings on the near south side of Minneapolis. In addition to confronting drug dealers and squatters, Larson bumped heads with unions, rent-control advo- cates and city officials. Along the way, he and investors bought up about 70 buildings with 1,500 units, mostly in the Stevens Square and Loring Park neighborhoods, helping to begin an inner-city renais- sance that continues. Larson, 67, now is selling the last of his " Minneapolis buildings and focusing on his On Business Neal St. Anthony $100,000 a month to buy and refurbish dilapidated houses in Ortonville, a scenic Min- nesota town of 2,200 people that lies 175 miles west of the Twin Cities along the South Dakota border. The town has lost industry and jobs during the past few decades and has grown frayed at the edges. But the sleepy downtown is just a couple of hundred yards east of Big Stone Lake. The lake actually is a wide stretch of the Minnesota River that runs for 36 miles and is a mile wide next frontier -- helping to re-. at Ortonville. develop what's one of the few picturesque Minnesota lake towns that has yet to see its real estate market take off. He's spending about Revitalizing Ortonville  = Newco.on One-time Minneapolis T,,,,-**/\\;  \\; developer Jim Larson .......... / ,,,' \\; 1) and partners are " \\;\/P / investing in Ortonville, n to-- \\; / "'-'- \\;   IIU MIVlI3dI111IV a town of 2,200 on " k  .... "- = \\; the Minnesota-South , ,  r    Dakota border. - %" t  . Lakefront 'l_ - nta!/-  - ' cottages --- J"   \\; / t " x,,,Gorler store Cities ........................................... Design plan provided by ./ .  ........ k D JR Architecture Inc. a few years ago and acquired a lakefront house in 2000 for Larson, orphaned at 13 $60,000. He invested another and raised by a sister, grewup $40,000 to mqdernize it, about 50 miles west ofOrton- refurbish the turn-of-the- ville, inBritton, S.D. century woodwork and He rediscovered this town floors, and add an expansive porch, picture windows and a spacious apartment upstairs that he rents for about $500 per month. i Reprinted in its entirety in The Ortonville Independent, | "3 issue of Tuesday, May 27, 2003. $1.5 million invested in Ortonville renovations Larson and his banker have invested more than $1.5 mil- lion during the past few years to buy and renovate a couple of dozen properties here, many of them abandoned or left idle by absentee owners. I.arson, who also is buying the downtown hardware store, employs contractors to fix up the houses and a few multi- unit properties. He rents out the properties for $500 to $800 per month. "Every day is a happy day for me," said Larson, who plans to live out his life here. "I do think this town will attract some industry as the City Council gets more aggressive and promotes its assets a beautiful river and lake, good infrastructure, good schools." Investing in the future Some of the people here can't figure Larson out. Others are just happy he's investing in Ortonville. "Larson lives here. He's in- vesting for a reason -- a better future," said Blair Johnson, an Ortonville accountant and member of the city's Econom- ic Development Authority. "We're a good little town. Our supermarket, Pamida, is still downtown. And downtown is still alive." Larson also is an investor in proposed lakefront develop- ment of 30 homes that would have a boardwalk and space for artists and retail. The homes, which sit on aban- doned railroad land adjacent to a city park close to the lake- shore, would sell for up to $100,000. Ortonville previously saw some pie-in-the-sky develop- ment proposals that called for government-financed, multi- million-dollar marinas and shopping meccas, but none got off the ground. Last month, the town's Economic .Development Au- thority voted 6-0 to approve Larson's plan, which was de- signed by Minneapolis archi- tect Dean Dovolis, one of Lar- son's investors. The modest lakefront development calls for only $20,000 in matching city money. The several mil- lion dollars in private financ- ing would be provided by lenders who would under- / ( In 1978, Jim Larson was busy buying and renovating buildings In poor Along the way, he angered tenant-rights groups by raising near valuatioll in 1974to In the inner-ci equity able to ment loans some maker beset Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune tarson checked off one of his remodeled Ortoflvllle properties, which he rents to tenants. The house overlooks Big Stone Lake. with hard to draw buyers. Wary residents Roman Taffe, a former Min- neapolis businessman, banker and Ortonville native who moved his family back to town several years ago, said a num- ber of people were concerned that Larson and Dovolis would propose something that would change the town's character. "Sometimes people see something new and get their underwear in a bundle," Taffe said. "Everybody was afraid that Dovolis would try and de- velop the public space, the park along the lake. He said, 'No way, that's the basis for folio, the success of the project.' The and spent the next decade as a land reading specialist, mentoring him and teaching troubled kids. the taken The start of something the The now-trendy neighbor- hoods around the Minneapo- lis Institute of Arts and what is "I now the Whittier area were Larson growing poorer and tougher in paying 1967. Property values were dropping, and building own- ers were losing their equity. A Larson, a critic of coddling troubled kids and indifferent parents, got crosswise with man some administrators and quit hoist a North High in 1970. Relying on a dryer. the experience he gathered At from moonlighting work he easy did as a building caretaker and write the home mortgages, public accessibility stays" and maintenance man during his The City Council will con- thete-statfiua, .  what sider the plan in lune. one small building and then "I like it because it creates housing and business oppor- tunity at a reasonable cost," said Terry Gere, a longtime Ortonville banker. "It will add population to our area and help provide entrepreneurs with space for little retail shops or artist galleries. "We've had lots of studies on what to do with the lake- front over the years .... But the developers had no money. This can all be done by private financing. We don't need any big government grants to get it done." Larson, Dovolis, the town's newspaper publisher, Gere and another banker already have invested more than $25,000 in preliminary plans. The backers believe that with the Twin Cities only three hours away and regional cen- ters Montevideo, Minn., and Sioux Falls, S.D., little more than an hour away, it won't be another. More than one owner gave him the keys and walked away from the mortgage. David Cleveland, the re- tired chief executive of what is his now Associated Bank Minne- sota, gave Larson his first loans. "He was a damn hard AndI worker, committed. And the times. guy really cared about the city," recalled Cleveland, who lieve made the former Riverside will Bank one of the state's most profitable over 30 years by tak- the ing on small-business borrow- reviving ers who'd been rejected by in larger banks. "lira paid his 1975 debts and sent a lot of busi- ness to Riverside. He's differ- ent. So am I. I liked him." in However, Larson infuriated first tenant-rights groups by rais- ing rents as he fixed up his buildings, sometimes prompt- ing pensioners to move. Over NatSt time, the value of many of Lar- son's buildings shot up. At one the abandoned railroad prop- erty that hasn't been used for decades." Larson said it has taken a couple of years to win folks over through his actions and investments. He knows some- thing about perseverance. His father left the family when Jim was still a boy, and his mother died when he was 13. An older sister raised him and several siblings, with help from neighbors. A good stu- dent and star athlete at Britton High, Larson turned down a free ride to the University of South Dakota in 155 because he resented the fact that the university wanted to give him a minority scholarship based on his Indian heritage rather than a football scholarship based on his abilities. Instead, Larson paid his way through nearby Huron Teachers College. In 1960, he took a teaching job with the Minneapolis Public Schools Help needed in Mexico! taken here also with water from a tub. suffering woman. Helping one person A large cement tank holds the family won't make a dent in the world's water supply and doubles as the poverty. But it will make a difference -- J #graou L 'kitchen" sink. It is similar to most to one. other homes in town, although there In the book of James, it is written, g Milbank, lies within the Tropics and is nestled among palm trees in the mountains about twenty minutes from the Pacific Ocean, due west of Mexico City. Not unlike the rest of Mexico, Navarrete is a poor town. The high- way through town provides it's only tarred street. The better streets are made of rocks and are good for about 10 mph. There is no need for speed are a fewcardboard homes. My Original intent was to write about my experiences and travels with my new friends in Navarrete. I think it is more important to tell of Andrea's mother, Evelia, and her need for help. Evelia fell and broke her hip last November. Mexican hospitals and doctors require payment before they provide care. She still hasn't received treatment for her hip. The cost will be $5,000. She lies in bed or sits in a wheel chair, she can't walk or stand. She has diabetes and osteoporosis. The medications she takes cost about $300 per month. The family income is about $450 per month. Her health requires her to be on a special diet. She also needs to visit the doctor regularly. None of this is possible. The painful one hour bus ride to the doctor is $12 round trip. The doctor visit costs another $40. Her choices are always, do I go to the doctor this week or buy medicine? Or, should I eat good food today? Maybe there isn't much work in the fruit groves this month, in which case there is no money either. Seven other people live in the home, the three adults work. Friends and neigh- bors give, but they are poor too. My one time appeal is this, can one community of rich Americans help out one poor Mexican family, one woman even?' I can give you no reason to open up your wallet and send me twenty dollars that I may in turn send to this "Pure, unspoiled religion in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows in their hardships and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world." Please recall the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man was- n't mean. His sin was that he ignored Lazarus and did nothing. And what does Jesus tell the rich young man? "Go, sell what you have, and give the money to the poor and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me." All I can ask is that you send me what ever you can (562 N. Minnesota St., Ortonville). I will send the money via Western Union to the Madrigal family in Mexico. I might add that Madrigal's did not ask me for help, I am doing this on my own because I think there are gener- ous people in Ortonville. I also do not ask for your next month's rent, only what you can spare for someone who has very little. Thank you in advance for your kindness and compassion. Your gift matters, and will make a big differ- ence in the life of one person, one family. God bless you. Open house set, for Patrick Karels An open house will be held June 1st in honor of Patrick Karels at his parents home, 213 2nd Ave, Big Stone City, SD from 2 to 5 p.m. in honor of his confirmation. Betty University, Joshua Eileen (Sc grandson of Schwarze graduates. Josh's only Chicago, They aU before graduation a picnic was family years of entry (National This cull togethers followed the Josh (all offensive line. Old The Old the calling Wednesday. There On the and Bev FoSS Bram night. 4, June limit signs or police, the fillings in your teeth tell you to slow down. The going rate for manual labor is $10 per twelve hour work day, but the cost of products are the same as they are here. The jeans that cost $30 in the U. S. are $30 in Mexico. The Madrigal home is made of brick with a cement floor. There is no plumbing. Palm branches tied togeth- er form the outhouse. Showers are by Dennis" Justison Two weeks in Mexico! Well, near- ly so. I was away from home for two weeks, six days in the car, eight in Mexico. This wasn't a "normal" vacation filled with sight seeing and souvenir hunting. My friend, Andrea, and I were visiting her family in Navarrete, Nayarit. Navarrete, about the size of THE MADRIGAL FAMILY lathers in the living room for a photo in Navarrete, Mexico. From left to right are Hernan, Jesse, Jose, Denms, friend Estela Sandoval, Arturo, Andrea and Evelia. Page 12 00INDEPENDENT Longtime apartment renovator Jim Larson is selling the last of his Minneapolis buildings as he turns his energies to Ortonville, a lake town on Minnesota's border with South Dakota. (Edi. note: The following appeared in the May 26, 2003, issue of the Mpls.. Star Tribune, on the front page of the Business Section.) Photographs by Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune Jim Larson steered his recently purchased boat around Big Stone Lake in Ortonvilie. Larson believes the area Is poised to take off. man with pl n Brick storefronts gne the main street through downtown Or- tonvllie. Though slightly frayed around the edges, the downtown Is Just a few hundred yards from picturesque Big Stone Lake. ORTONVILLE, MINN. -- A quarter-century ago, lim Lar- son bucked the odds to be- come the single largest reno- vator of inner-city apartment buildings on the near south side of Minneapolis. In addition to confronting drug dealers and squatters, Larson bumped heads with unions, rent-control advo- cates and city officials. Along the way, he and investors bought up about 70 buildings with 1,500 units, mostly in the Stevens Square and Loring Park neighborhoods, helping to begin an inner-city renais- sance that continues. Larson, 67, now is selling the last of his " Minneapolis buildings and focusing on his On Business Neal St. Anthony $100,000 a month to buy and refurbish dilapidated houses in Ortonville, a scenic Min- nesota town of 2,200 people that lies 175 miles west of the Twin Cities along the South Dakota border. The town has lost industry and jobs during the past few decades and has grown frayed at the edges. But the sleepy downtown is just a couple of hundred yards east of Big Stone Lake. The lake actually is a wide stretch of the Minnesota River that runs for 36 miles and is a mile wide next frontier -- helping to re-. at Ortonville. develop what's one of the few picturesque Minnesota lake towns that has yet to see its real estate market take off. He's spending about Revitalizing Ortonville  = Newco.on One-time Minneapolis T,,,,-**/\\;  \\; developer Jim Larson .......... / ,,,' \\; 1) and partners are " \\;\/P / investing in Ortonville, n to-- \\; / "'-'- \\;   IIU MIVlI3dI111IV a town of 2,200 on " k  .... "- = \\; the Minnesota-South , ,  r    Dakota border. - %" t  . Lakefront 'l_ - nta!/-  - ' cottages --- J"   \\; / t " x,,,Gorler store Cities ........................................... Design plan provided by ./ .  ........ k D JR Architecture Inc. a few years ago and acquired a lakefront house in 2000 for Larson, orphaned at 13 $60,000. He invested another and raised by a sister, grewup $40,000 to mqdernize it, about 50 miles west ofOrton- refurbish the turn-of-the- ville, inBritton, S.D. century woodwork and He rediscovered this town floors, and add an expansive porch, picture windows and a spacious apartment upstairs that he rents for about $500 per month. i Reprinted in its entirety in The Ortonville Independent, | "3 issue of Tuesday, May 27, 2003. $1.5 million invested in Ortonville renovations Larson and his banker have invested more than $1.5 mil- lion during the past few years to buy and renovate a couple of dozen properties here, many of them abandoned or left idle by absentee owners. I.arson, who also is buying the downtown hardware store, employs contractors to fix up the houses and a few multi- unit properties. He rents out the properties for $500 to $800 per month. "Every day is a happy day for me," said Larson, who plans to live out his life here. "I do think this town will attract some industry as the City Council gets more aggressive and promotes its assets a beautiful river and lake, good infrastructure, good schools." Investing in the future Some of the people here can't figure Larson out. Others are just happy he's investing in Ortonville. "Larson lives here. He's in- vesting for a reason -- a better future," said Blair Johnson, an Ortonville accountant and member of the city's Econom- ic Development Authority. "We're a good little town. Our supermarket, Pamida, is still downtown. And downtown is still alive." Larson also is an investor in proposed lakefront develop- ment of 30 homes that would have a boardwalk and space for artists and retail. The homes, which sit on aban- doned railroad land adjacent to a city park close to the lake- shore, would sell for up to $100,000. Ortonville previously saw some pie-in-the-sky develop- ment proposals that called for government-financed, multi- million-dollar marinas and shopping meccas, but none got off the ground. Last month, the town's Economic .Development Au- thority voted 6-0 to approve Larson's plan, which was de- signed by Minneapolis archi- tect Dean Dovolis, one of Lar- son's investors. The modest lakefront development calls for only $20,000 in matching city money. The several mil- lion dollars in private financ- ing would be provided by lenders who would under- / ( In 1978, Jim Larson was busy buying and renovating buildings In poor Along the way, he angered tenant-rights groups by raising near valuatioll in 1974to In the inner-ci equity able to ment loans some maker beset Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune tarson checked off one of his remodeled Ortoflvllle properties, which he rents to tenants. The house overlooks Big Stone Lake. with hard to draw buyers. Wary residents Roman Taffe, a former Min- neapolis businessman, banker and Ortonville native who moved his family back to town several years ago, said a num- ber of people were concerned that Larson and Dovolis would propose something that would change the town's character. "Sometimes people see something new and get their underwear in a bundle," Taffe said. "Everybody was afraid that Dovolis would try and de- velop the public space, the park along the lake. He said, 'No way, that's the basis for folio, the success of the project.' The and spent the next decade as a land reading specialist, mentoring him and teaching troubled kids. the taken The start of something the The now-trendy neighbor- hoods around the Minneapo- lis Institute of Arts and what is "I now the Whittier area were Larson growing poorer and tougher in paying 1967. Property values were dropping, and building own- ers were losing their equity. A Larson, a critic of coddling troubled kids and indifferent parents, got crosswise with man some administrators and quit hoist a North High in 1970. Relying on a dryer. the experience he gathered At from moonlighting work he easy did as a building caretaker and write the home mortgages, public accessibility stays" and maintenance man during his The City Council will con- thete-statfiua, .  what sider the plan in lune. one small building and then "I like it because it creates housing and business oppor- tunity at a reasonable cost," said Terry Gere, a longtime Ortonville banker. "It will add population to our area and help provide entrepreneurs with space for little retail shops or artist galleries. "We've had lots of studies on what to do with the lake- front over the years .... But the developers had no money. This can all be done by private financing. We don't need any big government grants to get it done." Larson, Dovolis, the town's newspaper publisher, Gere and another banker already have invested more than $25,000 in preliminary plans. The backers believe that with the Twin Cities only three hours away and regional cen- ters Montevideo, Minn., and Sioux Falls, S.D., little more than an hour away, it won't be another. More than one owner gave him the keys and walked away from the mortgage. David Cleveland, the re- tired chief executive of what is his now Associated Bank Minne- sota, gave Larson his first loans. "He was a damn hard AndI worker, committed. And the times. guy really cared about the city," recalled Cleveland, who lieve made the former Riverside will Bank one of the state's most profitable over 30 years by tak- the ing on small-business borrow- reviving ers who'd been rejected by in larger banks. "lira paid his 1975 debts and sent a lot of busi- ness to Riverside. He's differ- ent. So am I. I liked him." in However, Larson infuriated first tenant-rights groups by rais- ing rents as he fixed up his buildings, sometimes prompt- ing pensioners to move. Over NatSt time, the value of many of Lar- son's buildings shot up. At one the abandoned railroad prop- erty that hasn't been used for decades." Larson said it has taken a couple of years to win folks over through his actions and investments. He knows some- thing about perseverance. His father left the family when Jim was still a boy, and his mother died when he was 13. An older sister raised him and several siblings, with help from neighbors. A good stu- dent and star athlete at Britton High, Larson turned down a free ride to the University of South Dakota in 155 because he resented the fact that the university wanted to give him a minority scholarship based on his Indian heritage rather than a football scholarship based on his abilities. Instead, Larson paid his way through nearby Huron Teachers College. In 1960, he took a teaching job with the Minneapolis Public Schools Help needed in Mexico! taken here also with water from a tub. suffering woman. Helping one person A large cement tank holds the family won't make a dent in the world's water supply and doubles as the poverty. But it will make a difference -- J #graou L 'kitchen" sink. It is similar to most to one. other homes in town, although there In the book of James, it is written, g Milbank, lies within the Tropics and is nestled among palm trees in the mountains about twenty minutes from the Pacific Ocean, due west of Mexico City. Not unlike the rest of Mexico, Navarrete is a poor town. The high- way through town provides it's only tarred street. The better streets are made of rocks and are good for about 10 mph. There is no need for speed are a fewcardboard homes. My Original intent was to write about my experiences and travels with my new friends in Navarrete. I think it is more important to tell of Andrea's mother, Evelia, and her need for help. Evelia fell and broke her hip last November. Mexican hospitals and doctors require payment before they provide care. She still hasn't received treatment for her hip. The cost will be $5,000. She lies in bed or sits in a wheel chair, she can't walk or stand. She has diabetes and osteoporosis. The medications she takes cost about $300 per month. The family income is about $450 per month. Her health requires her to be on a special diet. She also needs to visit the doctor regularly. None of this is possible. The painful one hour bus ride to the doctor is $12 round trip. The doctor visit costs another $40. Her choices are always, do I go to the doctor this week or buy medicine? Or, should I eat good food today? Maybe there isn't much work in the fruit groves this month, in which case there is no money either. Seven other people live in the home, the three adults work. Friends and neigh- bors give, but they are poor too. My one time appeal is this, can one community of rich Americans help out one poor Mexican family, one woman even?' I can give you no reason to open up your wallet and send me twenty dollars that I may in turn send to this "Pure, unspoiled religion in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows in their hardships and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world." Please recall the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man was- n't mean. His sin was that he ignored Lazarus and did nothing. And what does Jesus tell the rich young man? "Go, sell what you have, and give the money to the poor and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me." All I can ask is that you send me what ever you can (562 N. Minnesota St., Ortonville). I will send the money via Western Union to the Madrigal family in Mexico. I might add that Madrigal's did not ask me for help, I am doing this on my own because I think there are gener- ous people in Ortonville. I also do not ask for your next month's rent, only what you can spare for someone who has very little. Thank you in advance for your kindness and compassion. Your gift matters, and will make a big differ- ence in the life of one person, one family. God bless you. Open house set, for Patrick Karels An open house will be held June 1st in honor of Patrick Karels at his parents home, 213 2nd Ave, Big Stone City, SD from 2 to 5 p.m. in honor of his confirmation. Betty University, Joshua Eileen (Sc grandson of Schwarze graduates. Josh's only Chicago, They aU before graduation a picnic was family years of entry (National This cull togethers followed the Josh (all offensive line. Old The Old the calling Wednesday. There On the and Bev FoSS Bram night. 4, June limit signs or police, the fillings in your teeth tell you to slow down. The going rate for manual labor is $10 per twelve hour work day, but the cost of products are the same as they are here. The jeans that cost $30 in the U. S. are $30 in Mexico. The Madrigal home is made of brick with a cement floor. There is no plumbing. Palm branches tied togeth- er form the outhouse. Showers are by Dennis" Justison Two weeks in Mexico! Well, near- ly so. I was away from home for two weeks, six days in the car, eight in Mexico. This wasn't a "normal" vacation filled with sight seeing and souvenir hunting. My friend, Andrea, and I were visiting her family in Navarrete, Nayarit. Navarrete, about the size of THE MADRIGAL FAMILY lathers in the living room for a photo in Navarrete, Mexico. From left to right are Hernan, Jesse, Jose, Denms, friend Estela Sandoval, Arturo, Andrea and Evelia. Page 12 00INDEPENDENT