Grace Center progress


Someday, viewing the former Holland Elementary School, now Grace Center for Community Life, from the air, there might be enough green features to make a pilot wonder whether there’s actually a building there. That’s a big change from the sea of asphalt there now…asphalt even paves the boulevards where grass wouldn’t grow under the trampling of little feet at the bus stops in the school’s heyday.

A final draft concept for landscaping is nearing completion, and Grace Center has posted it on a website (go to for a link ). The concept shows not only ideas for the grounds, but the building roof, with three seating areas, two arbor walks, a green roof garden, and potential food production areas on the roof, accessible by a future elevator.

In the plan, a playground area stays where it is currently on the southwest corner, and a natural play area and a separate “bioswale” area border it, anticipating the intermittent need for storm water treatment.

The area where raised beds are now placed on top of the asphalt would become an expanded outdoor classroom with four 20×20-foot garden beds, maintenance shed, compost area and berry patch. Parking, 58-60 stalls, would remain, divided between the southeast corner and the northwest corner and bordered somewhat with bioswales. Part of the southeast corner parking area can be gated off and turned into a hard surface play area.

The biggest change takes out asphalt between that southeast corner parking area and the natural play area and playground, leaving a half-oval area for open play or multi-purpose gatherings.

Grace Center received a planning grant from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) and hired SRF Consulting to study the site and do plans. To provide feedback on the draft plan, contact Craig Pederson at or 612-788-2444, or stop by the Grace Center building at 15th Avenue and Sixth Street to chat with him.

In other news relating to Grace Center, Northeast Community Lutheran Church has analyzed the costs of renovating the sanctuary, and has come up $43,000 short for the structure, another $40,000 needed to complete the seating, worship furnishings, full lighting and audio/visual elements. The church and Grace Center boards are considering a joint capital campaign for these needs, along with completing the kitchen and renovating the lobby areas.