A prominent old mansion in the heart of Minden's historic district could get a new lease on life if the Minden Planning Commission supports a request for a zoning variance.
Minden businessman Jimmy Hall went to members of the City of Minden Historic Downtown Development/Residential Commission Tuesday seeking support in his quest to purchase property located at 1114 Broadway, from Charles Alden Rathbun, for the purpose of a bed and breakfast and event destination facility.
"Our goal is to showplace the home's original integrity while further beautifying and enhancing the grounds," Hall, who owns Party Express, said. "The intention is for the facility and grounds to be a point of immense pride for the Minden community."
In the house, which is around 5,300 square feet, there are four bedrooms upstairs that would be used for the bed and breakfast. He foresees renting them for $115 to $150 per night. The entertainment venue could be rented for $2,500 to $3,000.
"This would be potentially for weddings, business meetings, company parties and things along those lines," he said. "For that kind of money, it would attract customers that are interested in an exclusively upscale environment. If we booked four weddings a year, I would be ecstatic."
In addition to the base purchase price, Hall anticipates an additional 30 to 40 percent of the purchase price to be invested in cleanup, landscaping, parking, areas, upgraded kitchen appliances and décor. The 3-car garage located on the site may be used for a commercial-size kitchen.
"There is a portion of the southern area of the grounds, located directly south of the garage where we could have a parking area to accommodate approximately 25-35 vehicles," Hall said. "No parking would be allowed along the streets. If the event has large crowds, they would have to park downtown and a trolley would bring them to the house."
Jerri de Pingre', president of the Minden-South Webster Chamber of Commerce, said she has always been in love with the Rathbun house.
"I see this (purchase) as a way of restoring this house," she said. "If something isn't done, it will deteriorate. I see it as a way to save this home and preserve it. We can add another layer of what Minden has to offer."
But not everyone is happy with the possibility of an event venue in the historic district.
Luther and Claire Moore, residents at 1110 Broadway, are concerned about the noise factor, as well as consequences of granting a zoning variance to allow for a bed and breakfast.
"This could potentially mess up a residential area," Luther Moore, a local attorney and CPA said. "If you have variances for one, you have to have them for others."
Brent Cooley, building official for the City of Minden, said a variance is to be used for control.
"You have a variance because we don't have a zoning classification for a bed and breakfast or event center only," Cooley said. "When you have a variance, if the business ceases to exist – whether the owner dies, sells it or doesn't operate it for that purpose for one year – then the variance ceases to exist."
There are also local laws governing noise violations, he pointed out.
The Minden Planning Commission will have the final say on the variance. Members are scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Thursday, August 7 at Minden City Hall.