ST. CLOUD — The City Council here Monday unanimously approved bids to spend $10.37 million to renovate the historic former Technical High School into St. Cloud City Hall.
The project will move city offices to the historic 1917 and 1938 sections of the school, which St. Cloud school district vacated in 2019 after it built a new high school on the south side of town.
St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis said Monday the demolition, abatement and remodeling is slated to start in April.
Tech's western building — two stories of classrooms built in 1962 with a third floor added in 1967, connected to the historic building by skyways — will be razed to make way for parking.
The historic sections, on the southernmost part of the site, will be remodeled for city offices. The former library will become council chambers and the building's theater will remain intact.
"If all goes well, we'll be in by the end of the year," Kleis said.
City offices are now in a building at the corner of Minnesota Highway 23 and Fifth Avenue South in downtown St. Cloud.
That building also had its roots as a school, first a junior high and then as an elementary. The city purchased the building in the late 1980s, with council chambers built in an old gymnasium with bleachers along the walls that were repurposed as risers for seating.
"The building will really function how it has in the existing location — with departments in classrooms with wide corridors," said Matt Glaesman, community development director, last month.
Glaesman said the new site places departments that most frequently interact with the public closer to the main entrance. It will also have more square footage, more parking and more large spaces the city can use for trainings and meetings.
The city also asked developers this year to submit plans to redevelop the current City Hall. Kleis said Monday three developers submitted proposals, which the city will bring forward to council members at an upcoming meeting.
The city took on the responsibility of redeveloping the 104-year-old former Technical High School because it wanted to ensure the site was redeveloped in a way fitting with the core neighborhood surrounding the property. The building is west of Lake George and Eastman Park, the site of a summer concert series and many community activities, and on the northern edge of the Lake George Neighborhood.
The city courted private developers to turn the former school into housing but the only company to respond to a request for qualifications backed out because the anticipated costs were too high.
The city was set to bid the Tech renovation project for city use last spring but the pandemic and its subsequent lousy municipal bond market delayed plans.
"If not for COVID, we would have probably not only bid the project, we'd probably be all moved in there," Kleis said.
Jenny Berg • 612-673-7299