School board members in Minneapolis Tuesday night authorized selling a key district-owned building at Hiawatha Avenue and East Lake Street to clear the way for redevelopment in exchange for assurance that key programs can remain there for up to eight more years.
The sale of 2225 E. Lake St. for about $8 million to Hennepin County would open the way to redevelop with housing, offices, a farmer market and a county social services hub at what is regarded as one of the most significant redevelopment opportunities along the Hiawatha Line. The building there is the former home of Brown Institute.
The school board also approved a resolution that sets a late August deadline for determining a future location for the building’s immigrant-focused adult basic education program serving South Side students, and for Transition Plus students who were slated to move to the building under the district’s enrollment plan. Transition Plus is a program that prepares older special education students for work and independent living. The approval also commits the district to securing a building for those programs by mid-2017.
The district said it is looking elsewhere in the Hiawatha-Lake area near South High School for space. Council Member Alondra Cano said that search will focus on purchasing and redeveloping the half-block between South’s athletic field and Lake Street. That’s the north half of the block directly west of the Midtown YWCA.
Although the county is named in the district resolution as the buyer of the district’s 2225 building, it likely would serve as a pass-through buyer. L&H Station Development has proposed 500 units of housing, 100,000 square feet of office space and 10,000 square feet of retail on the 6.4-acre site. Is proposal also includes space for the Midtown Farmers Market.
The school resolution authorized Chief Operating Officer Robert Doty to work out final details with the county on the sale. Doty said he’s hoping for a closing with the county in 90 to 120 days.
The school district previously tried to find affordable space for the 2225 programs in the area or even by leasing space in the redeveloped site, but decided that the costs were beyond its budget. Since then, more players, including Hennepin County, have gotten involved.
Mark Bollinger, Doty’s deputy, said in an interview that the districts wants Transition Plus and adult basic education to stay in the Hi-Lake area because of metro bus and rail connections. That also makes the Brown site attractive to developers.
Adult basic education students in south Minneapolis used to be schooled in the Lehman Center 2.6 miles west on Lake Street. When the district sold that building to a housing developer to help pay for the new district headquarters, they moved to 2225. North Side students were in the Broadway school building before it was torn down for the new district headquarters, then moved to North High School temporarily before moving into the new headquarters. Transition Plus is in the Wilder building at 3320 Elliot Av. S., but was scheduled to move to 2225 in 2015.
(Top photo: Existing former Brown building at 2225 E. Lake St.; right: proposal for redevelopment of the site. This article includes material from staff writer Eric Roper.)