Westminster Presbyterian joins downtown redo

Westminster Presbyterian Church says it’s joining the remake of the south end of downtown Minneapolis, as forklifts and backhoes rumble around on the other side of 12th Street.

Church and community leaders said today that Westminster has purchased the 8-story, glass-sheathed office building next door, at 13th and Nicollet. (That’s it, below, at right)

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Senior Pastor Tim Hart-Andersen said the 3,000-member church bought the property from Presbyterian Homes, which was planning a high-rise senior housing project at the site, but decided against it.

“We want to create next to our church something that will enhance the ministries of our church, that could be education space, it could be space for our young people, our children,” Hart-Andersen said in an interview today. “It could be space for ways to serve the community from the adjacent property, community center, community clinic. Lots of ideas floating around in terms of expansion of our ministries of the church.”

(That’s Hart-Anderson below, at this morning’s announcement, pointing at a model of the building his church bought yesterday.)

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He said the land will also have some component of open space, potentially serving as a link between the Nicollet Mall and the Minneapolis Convention Center.

“The other thing that we’re deeply committed to is that this will be green space,” Hart Andersen said. “This is going to be environmentally responsible. It will be inspiring space. People will walk by it and walk into it, and think that they are in a space that is profoundly exciting and renewing and introduces them to city that is a world-class city.”

Church officials said they expected that planning for what do to with the land — the buildings are going to be removed — will start with a church conversation next month. They expect the city will get involved and planning will run through 2014. They gave no date for completion of any projects on the site.

On the other side of Westminster, Orchestra Hall and Peavey Plaza are both in the midst of major makeovers, and the city has been wangling for state and other revenue to help remake Nicollet Mall.

For its partIMG_1848-1.JPG, the church purchased another adjacent building, the Marimark Apartments, in July. (That’s the rendering of the space there at left, click for a larger version.) Residents there are expected to be relocated this fall, with help from a $3 million commitment to low-income housing from the church. Hart-Andersen said the congregation had already raised about half that money, and expected the rest would be forthcoming.

The pastor said that the apartment building cost about $4.9 million and the office building about $8.7, bringing the church’s acquisitions on its block to nearly $14 million. Church officials credited the Mortenson family, of Mortenson Construction fame, for a gift that financed much of the project. The purchase is in addition to nearly $25 million the church has put into its existing buildings on the block over the last decade.

“We still give away about $1.5 million in mission every year, locally and globally,” Hart-Andersen said.

Images: Google (top), MPR News/Tim Nelson (center), James Dayton Design (bottom)

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