If space is needed, it could be rented nearby for a sliver of the cost of a new building.
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
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.