St. Paul put its old Public Safety Annex up for sale, despite an outcry from residents in the surrounding condominiums and apartments who want the city to stick with its plan to demolish the building and add a park.
Police are vacating the 92-year-old building this year and city officials — who are focused on job creation — decided to put it on the market. Downtown St. Paul is not lacking open office space, but it doesn't have enough of the "brick and timber" open floor plan styles that millennials and creative companies are looking for, said Council Member Rebecca Noecker, whose ward includes downtown.
The city's default plan is still to destroy the building at 100 10th St. E. and add a park, she said, "unless there is some unbelievable offer that comes along."
If that happens, there will be a lot more community involvement, Noecker said, and she would try to ensure some additional green space was incorporated in any option.
St. Paul is accepting offers to redevelop the building for office or commercial uses, including limited retail. The city plans to start evaluating offers June 12. If officials decide to consider an offer, the city's Housing and Redevelopment Authority will hold a public hearing to get community feedback. Developers could start overhauling the annex as soon as 2018.
"We have seen significant interest in repurposing older buildings into modern, high-quality office space. We would be remiss to not explore potential commercial redevelopment of this building to support immediate job growth in downtown," Mayor Chris Coleman said in a statement Monday.
Many residents have long hoped that the planned expansion of Pedro Park, next to the annex, would liven up the neighborhood and increase property values, much like Mears Park in Lowertown, said Rod Halvorson, president of the nearby City Walk Condominium Association.
Halvorson, who worked on a plan years ago that included the park, said residents will continue to fight the sale of the building, which he called an "illogical decision."
"I do understand it," he said, "because the city has a real strong need for cash and the park would cost money to build. But it's very, very shortsighted decisionmaking if they move forward with the sale."