An aging police training building in downtown St. Paul may get a second life.
City leaders, who had planned to demolish the public safety annex at 100 E. 10th St. and turn the site into a park, announced Monday that they were reconsidering that plan because of developers' interest in downtown and the mayor's push for job creation.
"Due to increased interest in the redevelopment of older buildings for modern office space, we are pressing pause on the initial demolition plan to fully explore the possibility of reuse," Mayor Chris Coleman said in a statement.
Many people would like the city to stick with its plan for a park, Council Member Rebecca Noecker said. But she also has heard from residents and business owners who said it would be wasteful to raze the building when downtown needs more office space.
The city will hold a community meeting at 5 p.m. Monday at Tin Whiskers Brewing, 125 E. 9th St., to discuss the options.
The annex is across the street from the site of the city's former police headquarters, now the Penfield apartment complex. St. Paul took over that development and sold it for $65.5 million last year, netting the city $8.7 million in profit.
The city plans to put the annex on the market soon and will decide how to proceed after hearing from developers, said Jonathan Sage-Martinson, the city's planning and economic development director. He said he is not sure whether St. Paul would be involved in redevelopment or simply sell the building as-is.
"Our plan is to get feedback from the development community and see what works," he said.
Police still use the annex for training, radio operations and investigative work, spokesman Steve Linders said.
However, the 92-year-old building is too small for the department's needs and has many problems, including an elevator that works only part of the time and a leaky roof, he said.
"It's an old, old building that requires a lot of work and we've outgrown it," he said.
Linders said officers will start using the new training facility that the city is building at 600 Lafayette Road in October and will vacate the annex by 2018.
The move has been in the works for years.
In 2010, the city created the Fitzgerald Park Precinct Plan to guide future development in the portion of downtown by Interstate 94.
It laid out plans for a new "park at the heart" of the area that would cover a full city block — the block where the public safety annex sits.
People wanted to remove the annex and expand Pedro Park, the small green space at Robert and 10th streets, said Paul Mandell, who was on the task force that helped develop the park precinct plan.
Mandell said they thought the new park would complement other downtown parks like Mears, Rice and Wacouta Commons.
Green space still would be a key part of the plan even if the city doesn't demolish the annex, Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hahm said, but exactly how it would look remains to be seen.
"Our downtown is continuing to grow," Hahm said, adding that as jobs, transit and housing increase, "We create these public spaces to support all that activity."