St. Thomas and Opus Architects & Engineers have developed a new design for a proposed business education building on the site of Christ Child Hall.
The design, unveiled last Thursday at a St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission meeting, shows a three-story, 75,000-square-foot building for the College of Business on the southwest corner of Summit and Cleveland avenues. St. Thomas hopes to begin construction later this year.
The design was shared as part of a presentation to the commission on the university’s proposal to redevelop the two blocks bounded by Summit, Cleveland, Grand and Cretin avenues. The northern half of the two-block site is in a historic district, and the commission must approve a demolition permit for Christ Child and a construction permit for the new $21 million building before the project can move forward.
The original design, unveiled in February 2001, called for an L-shaped building with three-story wings along Summit and Cleveland. Opus modified the design in response to suggestions from neighbors to soften the building’s massing by introducing one-story and two-story elements closer to Summit and Cleveland.
In addition to the business building, the first phase of the project would include a one-level parking garage under the building. St. Thomas also has plans for an apartment building on the Oasis Market site on the northwest corner of Cleveland and Grand, south of the business building.
The project’s second phase, after 2005, would involve development of new student housing in a residential village on the "west" block, between Finn and Cretin. The third and final phase calls for another "east" block academic building, on the site of McNeely Hall and an adjacent duplex, and more housing on Grand.
The commission took no action at Thursday’s meeting, nor did members express opinions about the feasibility of the overall project or the business building. St. Thomas and Opus are scheduled to return to the commission in February and March for concept reviews of the building’s exterior design, and a public hearing could be held in April. The commission then will decide on the demolition and construction permits.
The historic district review is one of four reviews this year on the project. The others:
• An environmental review could conclude in February. St. Paul Planning and Economic Development Director Martha Fuller will decide if the environmental review of the two-block project has been adequate or if further study is necessary. Preliminary findings of a city released in October said the project "does not have the potential for significant environmental impacts." Fuller’s decision can be appealed only in Ramsey County District Court.
• A zoning review will begin in March. St. Thomas will ask the St. Paul Planning Commission to add both blocks to the campus. That step will involve approval of a new Special Condition Use Permit, which will govern future development of both the project site and the remainder of the campus.
• A site plan review will be conducted this spring. That review, by city staff, involves issues such as water, sewer, utilities and landscaping for the business building.
Decisions by the Heritage Preservation Commission (on historic district issues) and the Planning Commission (on zoning issues) can be appealed to the St. Paul City Council. In that case, the council would hold a public hearing, likely in early to mid-summer, and make decisions.
HERE IS the view of the undergraduate building from the northwest, looking toward the building on the southwest corner of Summit and Cleveland avenues, with Summit in the foreground.