You may have noticed a for sale sign in front of the Wadena Elks Lodge. Lodge members say, it's for sale, but the club is by no means closing.
Several months ago, a developer approached the Elks organization inquiring if their property -- with prime frontage on Highway 71 -- would possibly be available for retail development. No offer was received following that meeting but the request prompted the Elks to consider a sale, according to Elks Chairman Bob Kempenich.
"We don't need the highway exposure," Kempenich said.
After discussion at a member meeting, the group decided to list their property and building. The current building, which houses the bar/restaurant and a banquet hall, was built in 1975. Kempenich said with the current development increase seen in Wadena, now seems like a good time to make a move.
"Maybe downsize, maybe build a new facility," Kempenich said. "If we don't sell we're not doing anything."
Selling the property and using the proceeds to settle somewhere else appealed to many Elks members. No determination has been made regarding a different location although lots of options have been discussed including building new or leasing existing space, including the downtown area.
Kempenich said the desire to downsize comes from a shift in consumers. He noted that back when the Elks Lodge was first starting out, there was probably a dozen bars in town.
"The next generation doesn't do that," he said. "You have to build around what your clientele wants."
The property at 647 Jefferson St. N. includes about 3 acres and a large steel building over 8,000 square feet, according to the listing on Albers Realty. The property and building are listed at $425,000. The hall seats about 200 and a commercial kitchen serves up a variety foods throughout the week.
The Wadena Elks is a charitable organization comprised of 260-plus local members. Since it’s beginning, the Wadena Lodge has given close to $3 million back to the communities it serves. The lodge sponsors many fundraisers each year and also gives back through the efforts of charitable gambling. They celebrated 50 years last year.