The Legislature was wise to appropriate funds to renovate our stunning State Capitol. The magnificent home to North Star State democracy is leaky and crumbling; we should be good stewards of this great Minnesota monument.
The same cannot be said of the Legislature’s decision to build a new — and unnecessary — $90 million Senate office building, a move recently pushed forward by the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board.
Proponents claim that a reduction of about 37,000 square feet of working space at the Capitol as a result of its renovation requires the raising of this 155,000-square-foot superstructure. Who did the math here?
There are already 10 Capitol-area buildings controlled by Minnesota government. Are state offices so packed that we can’t find just a little bit of free space?
Even if so, finding new state office suites does not require a new building. The vacancy rate in St. Paul’s business district is a hefty 19 percent, with close to 8 million square feet of office space ready for rent. Given that the average square foot rents for about $11 a year there, we could, it seems to me, find a new home for our state senators and their staffs for a mere $407,000 a year.
This new Senate office building project is big and wasteful government at its worst, providing an unnecessary product at an inflated price. It should be scrapped.
ANDY BREHM, Wayzata