Architect presents plans for Sleepy Eye Event Center

SLEEPY EYE – A Mankato architect with Sleepy Eye roots presented an interior schematic diagram design of what could become the Sleepy Eye Event Center in the Sleepy Eye City Council Chamber Tuesday noon.

Sleepy Eye City Manager Mark Kober said a Twin Cities-based investment group is interested in buying the former Inn of Seven Gables hotel and has shown interest in a possible future event center attached to it.

“They plan to visit Sleepy Eye Friday,” Kober said.

Kober said that a number of city officials recently visited the Big Wood Event Center in Fergus Falls and gained valuable information that they can use locally.

The hotel, closed for nearly two years, was purchased March 5, 2015, for $402,000 plus $5,000 for personal property, by the original lender, General Electric Capital Corporation at a mortgage foreclosure sale at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office.

Oleson displayed an interior design of event center that may be built on city-owned property just north of the hotel. The 16,500-square foot event center would seat 650 people. Three larger rooms would seat 176 people each and could be split in half by walls or curtains.

Plans include a large welcoming space, kitchen, office and common area outside the larger rooms with phones connected to the event center front desk.

Oleson suggested using luxury vinyl tile for flooring in much of the event center because it is very durable and looks like wood planks. “That’s what we used at the Best Western Mankato remodel,” Oleson said. “Wainscoting is good to use in the lower part of interior walls. Steel beams, columns, wood structural framing members and aluminum entry doors are other good features for high traffic areas.”

Kober said Oleson will make decisions for the City event center “so we can get this done. We need his expertise. He knows our monetary restrictions.”

Oleson said connecting the hotel and event center is important. “People need to be able to access both places without going outside. This could include a good, photographic focal point too. I think this can really be attractive,” he added.

The Sleepy Eye City Council meets at 7 p.m., Friday, April 8 in the council chambers.

Another event center design development meeting is set for noon, Tuesday, April 26 in the council chambers.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at