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Remodeled Country Manor will be aimed at college housing

Photo by Rachelle Klemme Tim and Christina Theisen are remodeling the old Country Manor motel into an apartment building.

The old Country Manor motel on U.S. Highway 10 is busy again - this time, it is undergoing remodeling in order to become an apartment complex geared for students at M State - Wadena.

The new owners, Tim and Christina Theisen of Bluffton, closed on the two-story building Sept. 9 and are converting it inside and out to be ready by November. Most of the former motel rooms will be studio apartments, with a few one-bedroom apartments. Cabinets and kitchenettes including refrigerators, sink and stoves are being added to facilitate the building's new purpose.

New carpet and new paint are also part of the project.

"Structurally, there's not a lot that needs to be changed," Christina Theisen said.

Tim is the owner of Theisen Construction, where most of his work has been in remodeling and residential projects. This is the biggest project he has taken on so far.

Christina Theisen said that while they will rent to non-students as well, they expect the majority of their tenants to be M State students.

Tim Theisen said that with the shortage of housing in the area, it was good to put the vacant building to use.

"It just seems like even without the tornado, there's a lot more demand for rental properties," he said.

Christina Theisen said that she had been in communication with M State.

"There's definitely a need for some more student housing," she said.

How did they get the idea to turn the motel into an apartment building?

"It kind of started out as a joke," Tim Theisen said.

But from there, the wild idea started becoming a reality. They visited the building and communicated with the realtor. A day after closing the sale, they got to work and have been painting as much as the weather permits.

Gone are the retro Pepsi logo and vintage Googie-style sign. The cream color has been painted over with dark red, and the parking lot has been seal coated.

The motel had a restaurant attached, and the Theisens are hoping to use that part of the building open up a new bar and restaurant intended for the general public.

The Theisens will meet with the township the first week in October to present a business plan. Pending approvals on the liquor license and food license, they are aiming to have the restaurant ready by the beginning of 2012.