Preservation panel approves Capitol plan

Restoration work has already begun at the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul. (MPR Photo/Tom Scheck)
Restoration work has already begun at the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul. (MPR Photo/Tom Scheck)

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and other members of the Capitol Preservation Commission gave their blessing today to the first phase of a $272 million renovation of the Capitol building.

The panel approved a schematic design that sets the general parameters, scope and budget for the four-year renovation project. Also advanced was a work plan for basement demolition and the grading and paving of a temporary parking lot on the Capitol mall.

The renovation will cause short-term pain while achieving long-term gain, said Spencer Cronk, commissioner of the Department of Administration.

"We're truly restoring this building for the next hundred years with the architectural integrity that Cass Gilbert envisioned, keeping it as a functional building, not as a museum, and addressing many critical life-safety issues," Cronk said.

Project planners still have many details left to resolve in the coming months, including how the renovated space will be allocated among lawmakers and other tenants. That decision is expected next month. The commission will meet again in December to approve more additional design details.

Security and acoustical improvements should be part of those ongoing discussions, said Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove. Limmer raised concerns about loud public demonstrations inside the Capitol and suggested such events be limited to designated areas.

"With the way this building is created, you cannot do business with a raging mob outside the door," Limmer said.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.