After years of trying to find a buyer to renovate a long-shuttered and dilapidated building inside the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary on the edge of downtown St. Paul, organizers now say the Lowertown Depot is likely to be razed. However, a nascent effort to build a 'food oasis' that was originally proposed to be located there will go on - and has been going on - without the building.
St. Paul resident Tracy Sides won the $1 million prize in 2013 from the Forever Saint Paul Challenge for her idea to create a 'food oasis' in the Lowertown Depot building. She has since founded an organization called Urban Oasis, which aims to connect food, nature and culture. The organization is hosting its inaugural event this Aug 17 on St. Paul's eastside.
Dan McGuiness, director of the Lower Phalen Creek Project, works with the city to promote and maintain the Vento Sanctuary. He said he had long hoped to save the vacant warehouse. That effort included a failed bid this year to secure bonding bill funding from state lawmakers.
McGuiness told the Daily Circuit he's disappointed the building will likely go, but he's excited for Sides' project and for what might one day replace the building.
McGuinness and Sides recently spoke with Tom Weber at the Sanctuary.