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New Carlson building opens in Hastings

It took a little longer than expected, but Carlson Capital Management has its new office. The 3,815-square-foot building, located at 118 E. Fourth St. across from Hastings City Hall, opened Dec. 2.

CCM is a wealth management firm that works with clients to put together a complete financial plan that integrates investment, estate, tax, retirement and cash flow, risk management and philanthropy planning. Each client gets a plan tailored to his or her individual needs and goals.

Jeff Carlson, co-founder and principal of the company, said he's wanted to build on this particular site since 2003.

"I've always liked this site," he said.

The location was a major factor. It's easy to direct clients to, and being close to the downtown area means staff can walk downtown for lunch or dinner - as can their clients. There's room for their own parking lot behind the building, and the oak trees on the site are "phenomenal," Carlson said.

At the time, however, it was part of another development project, and he couldn't move on the property. The opportunity came again earlier this year, and Carlson was able to work with the Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority to purchase the lot. Construction began in July.

Due to its proximity to Hastings' historic downtown district and City Hall, Carlson wanted to make sure his new building matched its neighbors. The exterior features red brick and limestone, and Carlson even took care to include a decorative cornice such as several downtown buildings have. The goal was to make it look like the building had been there for a long time already, rather than a modern new addition.

"I think we were successful in achieving that," Carlson said.

To add to the oldness of the place, Carlson worked in a few elements to pay tribute to the region's history. The huge stone blocks outside, for example, are remnants from an old train station in the Twin Cities. A water fountain that has yet to be installed will be made out of four or five blocks of New Hampshire granite that once were part of the Metropolitan building in Minneapolis, which was destroyed in 1961. One of the landscapers working on the Carlson building knew of the blocks and helped secure a few for Carlson's new building. Inside, a fireplace mantel in the front entry is made in part of tiger maple, which has an unusual striped pattern in the wood. The carpenter's father had done furniture work for the LeDuc mansion and had some of the wood from the mansion.

There were several factors driving the design of the Carlson building.

"First and foremost I wanted to create something like a home," Carlson said.

The company has been leasing space since 1985, and had to move six times because landlords needed their space for another use. Carlson knew he and his staff needed something that would be comfortable.

"Because we spend more time here than we spend at home," he said.

The building's interior was designed with CCM employees in mind. When they knew they were going to build their own office, Carlson and his fellow founders and principals sat down with their staff and asked them what they needed and wanted in a new office. One feature is a shower in one of the bathrooms, so employees can ride bicycles into work in the summertime and have a place to clean up before getting down to business.

The company's team approach to business means employees often travel between their four offices in Hastings, Northfield, Rochester and Bloomington. So besides having four offices for the people based out of Hastings, the building has space for extra workstations for those who come here for the day. Carlson said that of his 25 employees, six are considered permanent Hastings employees and anywhere from five to 10 people can be working here any given day.

There is still some work left to be done - little things like window treatments and bringing in the rest of the furniture, for example. The bulk of the landscaping will be done in the spring. At that point, two rain gardens will also be installed to filter runoff from the building before it flows into the city water system.

CCM is also planning a public open house on Feb. 10 from noon to 6 p.m., so those who are curious about the building can stop in and see it for themselves. More information on the open house will be available as the date approaches.