Have you wondered if the City of Sleepy Eye’s new blight ordinance is making a difference?

Have you wondered if the City of Sleepy Eye’s new blight ordinance is making a difference? Well, wonder no more—take a drive on Main Street and see what Tom Kolbe has done with his building.

“This is the oldest original building in downtown Sleepy Eye—built in 1880,” said Kolbe. “I always wanted to make it look beautiful again, but life kept happening.”

Last week, Kolbe got a letter from the city’s blight officer, Matt Ibberson, instructing him to take care of some building maintenance and appearance issues. Kolbe said that was the push he needed to get started now. “The letter said I have five days and that’s my plan,” he said. [From the editor: A few bouts of rain put a delay on painting.]

The specific items called for in the blight letter were to paint, have glass in all windows, and repair any part of the exterior that has deterioration, holes, etc. Kolbe is tackling the building, front and back. The Main Street store front has a coat of clean white paint, with dark gray trim. Kolbe plans to paint the bricks the same dark gray, but isn’t sure he will accomplish that right away.

Kolbe said he’s spoken with Ibberson about his downtown property a few times and said Ibberson has been good to work with. Earlier this summer Kolbe replaced the roof on the shed at the back of the property.

The blight letter may have given Kolbe a push, but he is truly proud of the building’s place in Sleepy Eye’s history and wants to make it attractive. He said the building was originally known as the Kiefer Building and was a barbershop and cigar store. The Kolbe family acquired the building in 1985 from a member of the Kiefer family.

Kolbe’s building needs work inside, too. It’s something he plans to work at as time and money allow. His long-range dream? An antique store? “Maybe someday,” he said. For now he’s pleased to put a new face on the place.