Minneapolis schools plan new adult education building

Minneapolis Public Schools is seeking to buy property south of Lake Street in Minneapolis to build a new adult education building.

The district has acquired a number of properties in the 2000 block of Lake Street in south Minneapolis, which is home to an auto shop, office building and some homes, said district deputy general counsel Amy Moore.

If the district is able to acquire the final two properties necessary for the new building, Moore said, the district plans to begin the permitting process to demolish existing properties early this summer.

Although plans for the new building are sketchy, it could be anywhere between 40,000 and 70,000 square feet in size and cost between $15 and $30 million, according to district executive director of facilities management and capital construction Mark Bollinger.

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The new property is located between the YWCA and South High School's football field. A building there would host the district's adult education classes and the Transition Plus program, which is a special education offering that serves young adults. Other programs could eventually be moved to the new facility as well.

"We'll start in with a visioning process" including the neighborhood group, residents and officials at nearby South High School, Bollinger said. "That's when we'll take a harder look at some other opportunities and options."

The district's adult education program is currently located in a building a few blocks east at 2225 Lake St. that was purchased recently by the county for about $8 million, and which will eventually be displaced by county social services offices and a large residential and commercial development.

Corcoran Neighborhood Organization executive director Eric Gustafson said the neighborhood group is pleased the district is keeping adult education programs in the area, as well as developing the "blighted" properties on the lot.

Bollinger said selling the land at 2225 Lake St. gave the district more flexibility in finding a new facility.

"There was just a lot of land there that we probably weren't using, and could be better utilized by city, county, community desires and efforts," Bollinger said of 2225 Lake St.

A "leaseback" deal with the county allows Minneapolis Public Schools to keep the adult education program in its current space for up to eight years, although district executive director of Minneapolis Community Education Jack Tamble said they don't plan to remain in the old building that long.

"The first three years, we can stay on the property without any assessment against the district," Tamble said. "That will give us the time we need to prepare another facility."

Tamble said about 1,000 students attend adult education programs each day.

"The building we're in is old," Tamble said. "It's got deficiencies to it like a lot of buildings that are older, but this would be a real nice upgrade."