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George’s Ballroom, parts of Marktplatz Mall forfeited to State

Over unpaid property taxes

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Windows and doors are now boarded up at George’s Ballroom, located at Center and German Street. The property was forfeited to the State of Minnesota due to unpaid property taxes. A County Auditor’s Certification of Forfeiture was recorded Aug. 13 at the Brown County Courthouse.

\NEW ULM — Two of New Ulm’s more iconic buildings — George’s Ballroom and parts of the Marktplatz Mall — are now owned by the State of Minnesota due to non-payment of property taxes.

A County Auditor’s Certification of Forfeiture documents transferring the properties to the State of Minnesota were filed at the Brown County Recorder’s Office on Aug. 13.

What happens to the properties now remains to be determined, said Brown County Auditor Treasurer Jean Prochniak.

“There are a variety of ways to handle the property,” Prochniak said. “They could be used for public use if government agencies so desire. The process is lengthy and detailed. People would need to be organized to discuss what’s the best thing to do. It’s a challenge.”

Under the process, all taxes and special assessments prior to the forfeiture date are cancelled.

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Parts of the north and south end of the Marktplatz Mall were forfeited to the State of Minnesota due to unpaid property taxes.

For a period of time, a previous owner can go through the repurchase process.

A classification process takes place to determine whether the land remains in public ownership and can be managed for public benefit. It could be returned to private ownership through a public auction.

According to law, the county auditor is to classify or reclassify state-owned, tax-forfeited land as conservation or non-conservation.

Once decided, lands are offered for sale by sale to a government entity which could include a city, sold by public auction, adjacent owner auction or over the counter. Some properties not sold at auction may become available for purchase in the Brown County Auditor-Treasurer’s Office.

When land is forfeited, no taxes are collected. The tax-forfeited land program is intended to make state-owned land productive, taxable property again.

In Minnesota, the County Auditor administers and managed the unsold inventory of State of Minnesota tax-forfeited properties on behalf of the taxing subdivision, including the school district, city and county.

Following a review period, such properties are classified and open to the public for purchase.

New Ulm Mayor Bob Beussman said the street vision of George’s Ballroom is not a lot better than it was since a number of wild trees were cut down.

“It’s said that an iconic building has been left to rot,” Beussman said. “I wish the sign could be saved, like the Grain Belt beer sign that Schell’s restored. I’ve heard stories about parties interested in buying the ballroom and turning it into a hotel, microbrewery or distillery.”

George’s Ballroom was built in 1947. It became a popular destination for young couples reunited after World War II. In it’s heyday, it was an important venue for big bands like Lawrence Welk, Glenn Miller and the Six Fat Dutchmen polka band, among others.

The colorful, art deco building is a symbol of small-town ballrooms that were the center of weekend events in rural America. The ballroom included a bowling alley, restaurant and bar.

The building closed in 1991 due to declining interest in ballroom dancing.

The ballroom’s last owner, Randy Danielson, owed $27,181.23 in property taxes, assessments, penalties, interest and other costs from 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The Marktplatz Mall was built in the 1980s and flourished for a time with the Herberger’s department store as an anchor on the north end of the mall. An anchor store at the south end of the mall never came to be.

Danielson bought parts of the mall that was owned by two owners. A number of smaller businesses came and went over the last few years. For his larger portion of the mall, Danielson owed $47,013.35 in taxes, assessments, penalties, interest and other costs from 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. The mall is now closed.

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