The long-awaited new county library in Brooklyn Park is getting closer to reality, as Hennepin County nears selection of a contractor to build the $23.5 million building near the corner of 85th Avenue N. and W. Broadway Avenue.

A contractor will be picked by the end of January, and construction at the 6-acre site will start shortly afterward and last about a year, said County Commissioner Mike Opat. Seven contractors submitted proposals: Shaw Lundquist, Stahl Construction, Loefler Construction & Consulting, Knutson Construction, Graham Construction Services, Morcon Construction and Terra General Contractors.

At just over 39,000 square feet, the new library will be more than double the size of the current building at 8600 Zane Av. N. Future plans for the current building are unknown.

A goal for the new library is to create a space that acts like a “living room for the community,” said Jane Dedering, library planner and interior designer with HGA Architects and Engineers in Milwaukee. The open floor plan will bring more comfort for a variety of gatherings, added Tim Carl — the design principal with the HGA Architects and Engineers in Minneapolis.

Together with Dedering, Carl has been hard at work planning and designing the building.

“The whole concept is designed behind three living rooms,” Carl said — one for children, another for teens and one for adults.

The warmth of natural light is also very important to the design.

Windows and cathedral ceilings will open the space and bring light from north and south, with shades at the ready to control any glare.

Dedering said HGA Architects and Engineers is designing the project “from inside out,” with the community shaping the architecture.

During several open-house meetings, Dedering and Carl found residents excited about the possibilities for what the new building will bring to the community. Residents want a space to meet their neighbors, meeting rooms and comfortable seating, they said.

The library project also includes a surface parking lot and vehicular and pedestrian book-drop sites.

County officials have been laying the groundwork for the project for about eight years, and residents “have been waiting a long time for this,” said Kim Berggren, director of community development for the city.

“It’s a lot of excitement to know that it will actually be under construction soon,” Berggren said.

The new library also could be part of bigger things in the area, Opat said. The proposed Bottineau light-rail project and improvements at North Hennepin Community College will help turn the area into a community hub, he said.

The Bottineau project, also called the Blue Line, is in preliminary stages, but plans for construction could begin as early as 2018. And the community college is updating its master facilities plan.


Twitter: @KarenAnelZamora