ST. PAUL, Minn. — Top Minnesota officials on Monday approved the design and work plan for a state Capitol restoration that will touch every corner of the historic building and cause construction headaches along the way.
The Capitol Preservation Commission signed off on the schematic design for the $272 million project as well as some specific aspects of the first phase of work. The commission is led by Gov. Mark Dayton and includes stakeholders from the Legislature, the courts and other entities.
Major work begins in September and is expected to last for a few years. It will result in upgrades to internal and external features of the century-old Capitol, from improved sound and lighting to the possible reopening of a long-closed balcony with an impressive view of downtown St. Paul.
During construction, many tenants will be displaced and temporary parking lots will replace some Capitol green space. Project consultants looked into providing shuttles for off-site parking but found it would cost $300,000 more than the temporary lots.
Of the hassles and construction-zone blight, Dayton said people will just have to "grit and bear it."
Department of Administration Commissioner Spencer Cronk, whose agency will oversee the project, said the panel's approval was a significant step forward in a project more than a decade in the making. He said any inconveniences will be overshadowed by the improvements to the landmark.
"It's always important to remind ourselves of the short-term pain for long-term gain," Cronk said.
Approval of the schematic plan still allows for adjustments to the project. But the deeper crews get into the project, the more expensive changes to the designs become.
Officials said they expect as much as three-quarters of the project to be completed by Minnesota companies.