Westminster Presbyterian Church on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis plans to demolish an eight-story glassy office building adjacent to its historic site and expand the church’s footprint in its place.
The building project, contingent upon church board approval next week, is part of a larger campaign focused on positioning the church for its next 100 years in downtown Minneapolis. The campaign also will raise up to $7 million for charity and community services, including about $4 million for new affordable housing in the city, said senior pastor Tim Hart-Andersen.
Westminster is seeking city approval for a two-story, 41,000-square-foot modern expansion with large plazas and gardens lining the highly trafficked street. Early cost estimates put the project at $27 million to $28 million.
The church in 2012 purchased the property at 1221 Nicollet Mall for $8.7 million. At that time, the 3,100-member Westminster announced that it planned to eventually raze the blue-hued office building to make way for a church expansion.
The original portion of Westminster was built in 1897 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Westminster plans to use the addition for worship and gathering space, a multipurpose room, classrooms, youth spaces, church offices and community partnership space, according to documents filed with the city.
“We want to be a part of this city’s growth for years to come,” Hart-Andersen said. “One of our principles is to be ecologically responsible as it is our understanding of caring for creation. There will be a green roof that will water the plaza and provide water for the bathrooms.
“We really want it to be an example of how you can have a green and sustainable building in the heart of the city.”
About 25 percent of the new space is designed to host community partners, including one of two possible nonprofits, Hart-Anderson said.
Declining to name the organizations they are having conversations with, Hart-Andersen did say it will probably either be a nonprofit that provides services for early intervention for babies and toddlers who have suffered trauma or an urban school.
In addition to the expansion, Westminster plans to renovate 30,000 square feet of its existing interior to provide new libraries and co-working space.
The modern-style expansion will use more natural materials like limestone, zinc-coated copper and a stucco-like plaster.
Westminster plans to start demolition on the 1980s-era office building April 15. Plans also include a two-story underground parking garage for more than 230 vehicles. The church would get rid of its existing surface parking lot.
Instead, there will be large outdoor plazas and gardens on both the Nicollet Mall and Marquette Avenue sides.
“We want this to be a beautiful and inspiring space,” Hart-Andersen said. “It’s part of a larger effort to position the church for the next 100 years.”
Coincides with mall project
The construction coincides with a high-profile makeover of Nicollet Mall, the city’s signature street. Westminster has been in communication with the Nicollet Mall redevelopment team to make sure construction timing and designs don’t conflict with one another.
“A lot of thought went into how the Nicollet Mall redesign would fit in with its space,” said Steve Cramer, president and chief executive of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. “Apart from the aesthetic value of their project, which I see as high, their investment in the community is hugely important. So an A-plus from the Downtown Council’s perspective.”
The plans are on the agenda of the city’s Planning Commission Committee of the Whole for March 17 — the same day the church board will vote on the project.
Westminster has committed to building 150 affordable housing units in or near downtown Minneapolis over five years. It contributed to The Rose, a recent affordable housing complex at the corner of Portland and Franklin avenues.
The church is working with Aeon to construct another 90 units near Hennepin County Medical Center in Downtown East.
If approved, Westminster will launch its fundraising campaign on April 10. The construction is expected to take two years, with a targeted completion date of Easter 2018.
“We’ve had a generous response from our congregation already,” Hart-Andersen said. “People are really energized and excited by this.”