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He is reservedly optimistic about Jack Allen. “Jack had a realistic plan. It makes sense to remake part of it as a school.”
Allen is confident he can raise the money. He said approximately half the money will come from private donations and half from grants.
“This building is loved by the community,” said Allen, who also runs a Bible camp on nearby Grindstone Lake and has experience rehabbing old houses.
City Council member Phil Kester doubts the building is worth the trouble. “I don’t feel the sentiment toward it to spend money on it,” he said. “It’s a beautiful building and a humongous bill. There is mold and everything else. Lead-based paint all over. You have nothing but a bunch of work there.”
If Allen’s plan falls through, the city expects to deal with the building quickly. A few years ago, the city received a demolition estimate of more than $700,000. But letting the structure further degrade brings liability concerns.
“If we can’t find a use this summer,” Griffith said, “we will have to plan next winter to take it down.”
“Reviving Minnesota Relics” is a series that can be heard starting Monday on MPR News — 91.1 FM in the Twin Cities — or read in its entirety at MPRNews.org.