Old bus shelters don’t die, they just sit empty on the corner.
That’s the case with the one on the North Plaza of Hennepin County Government Center at the corner of 5th Street and 3rd Avenue S.
The need for the shelter was supplanted by the light-rail Government Center stop that shuttles passengers to and from downtown and the Mall of America.
Hennepin County, which helped build the bus shelter, is now ready to be done with it.
The board passed a resolution last year directing the county administrator to work with Metro Transit to remove the shelter “as soon as possible” and “advocate for its re-use, if appropriate.” The corner hasn’t been used as a bus stop since November 2009.
The 8- by 48-foot shelter occupies a corner of the larger plaza that in warmer months becomes a spot for downtowners to eat lunch and soak up sunshine. A fountain — currently drained for the winter — becomes the centerpiece.
The plaza is one of the few open gathering spots downtown. When weather allows, a cafe with grilled burgers and brats pops up to sell lunch. Occasionally the site plays host to protests or becomes a stage for live music.
The bus shelter’s fate will be up to the Metropolitan Council, said Judy Hollander, county director of property services.
She said there was discussion about moving it to the south side of the plaza to be used at a different bus stop. The county considered, then set aside, the prospect of using the facility for bike storage because of concerns about cyclists stepping into the street.
The assumption is that the area occupied by the shelter will be restored to plaza, Hollander said before adding, “Do you have any ideas?”
For now, the county just awaits word from the Met Council.
Hollander said, “It’s in their hands.”