It's hard to muster a lot of love for the Gillette building -- the hulking, erstwhile shampoo factory in downtown St. Paul that looks like a corrugated concrete warehouse.
But downtown gallery owner, artist and one-time city council contender Bill Hosko says he doesn't want it demolished to make room for the new Lowertown Ballpark. In fact, he wants the ballpark built into the building. Here' the concept drawing he's passing out on a flyer for a meeting on the idea tonight.
He's started a Facebook page, too: Lowertown Ballpark. A New Perspective.
"I originally came up with the idea two years ago, in response to the city's first conceptual version of the ballpark," Hosko says. "Frankly, I winced at the design. It looked like something out of 1968, right across the street from a historic district."
He's going to pitch the idea in the Great Hall at 180 E. 5th Street, the old Great Northern Railroad Building on Jackson Street. The meeting starts at 8:30 tonight.
The biggest advantage, Hosko concedes, may be the least scenic or historic. The city's existing plans for a new home for the Saints will take out about 320 parking spaces, including dozens from residents of the Market House condominiums across the street. Hosko says the shell of the Gillette building could accommodate 700 parking spaces in addition to the ballpark.
Needless to say, the city has other plans. There's no Gillette in the sketch below.
"Mr. Hosko has been told, a number of times, from every level of the city, that his plan is unworkable, for any number of reasons" says Joe Campbell, spokesman for mayor Chris Coleman.