Ramsey County

County launches housing department

Ramsey County has created a new Housing Stability Department to consolidate housing programs and reduce race-based economic disparities, officials said.

The new department will work across the continuum of housing, ranging from emergency shelter for the homeless to long-term housing options.

The department's inaugural director will be Keith Lattimore, director of MnCHOICES and Aging and Disability Services division of county Social Services.

Lattimore started as a Ramsey County correctional officer in 1998. He has served as operations chief for the Homelessness and Housing Stability Branch of the county's Incident Management Team during the pandemic.

Shannon Prather

Columbia Heights

Construction begins on City Hall project

Ground was broken last week on a $70 million mixed-use project that will incorporate apartments and a cafe with Columbia Heights' new City Hall, an unusual mix of housing, retail and government offices.

Mayor-elect Amáda Márquez Simula said she is excited about the new City Hall, which will replace the city's existing 78-year-old headquarters, better accommodate technology for virtual meetings and help revitalize downtown's central business corridor.

Community Development Director Aaron Chirpich said the City Hall portion of the project, at the corner of NE. Central and 40th avenues, is expected to be completed in the fall of 2022.

Kim Hyatt

Norwood Young America

Band shell will return to city's Legion Park

A 120-year-old band shell will be returned next year to its first home in Norwood Young America's Legion Park, where it will serve as a picnic shelter.

Moving the structure back to the park and restoring it will cost about $10,500, said LaVonne Kroells, president of the Willkommen Heritage and Preservation Society, the organization arranging the move. She said she hopes to get donations as well as volunteer help for the project.

The band shell was built around 1900 as a venue for local events, including music and dancing on Sunday afternoons, Kroells said. The city sold the band shell in 1920 to a family living across the street, which used it as a garage. Its current owner is donating it to the city.



Zoo gets state bonding for monorail trail

Apple Valley Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland has hailed state lawmakers for including $13 million in the bonding bill for the Minnesota Zoo, $11 million of which will help build the Treetop Trail atop the zoo's defunct monorail.

"This is going to be significant for the city of Apple Valley and our region and our state," Hamann-Roland said at a recent City Council meeting, adding that the zoo plays an important role in the city's economic development.

The project would transform the monorail track into what would likely be the country's longest elevated trail loop. The balance of the project's $22 million cost would come from private donations.

Zoo officials decided to repurpose the monorail when it became clear it would cost even more to tear down.