Minneapolis: Shingle Creek School building fate still in the lurch


Last July, in a Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) report regarding the ‘Demolition of a Historic Resource’ prepared by Aaron Hanauer, Senior City Planner for the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC), he noted that, “The Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) is proposing to demolish Shingle Creek Elementary School; there are no plans for future development at this time. In the interim, the site would become green space as an extension of the adjacent park.”

Hanauer’s report stated that there are seven criteria that the HPC evaluates demolition proposals against, and Shingle Creek Elementary met six criteria for reasons to oppose the demolition, and to allow further historical preservation investigation. There were also 16 findings in the CPED report which backed the recommendation not to support the demolition. The Heritage Preservation Commission approved a 12 month investigation at that time. The last time that the MPS appealed the HPC’s decision, the Zoning and Planning commission granted MPS their appeal in August and gave them 180 days to market the building, and if at the end of that time they could not find a buyer, the demolition may move forward.

In the past the Shingle Creek Neighborhood Association (SCNA) surveyed the entire Shingle Creek neighborhood and developed its neighborhood priority goals and objectives for its NRP Phase II Neighborhood Action Plan. SCNA identified the following strategies as goals, objectives and strategies about the school: Community Life: Schools and School Grounds: Goal 1: Preserve Shingle Creek neighborhood as a vibrant, supportive community for people who live, work and play here. Objective 4: Retain valuable public assets within the public realm. Strategy 1: Encourage the Minneapolis Public School District to use, reuse or retain Shingle Creek school buildings and land for future growth cycle. Strategy 2: Encourage the use, reuse or retention of public parks, lands and buildings for public use, when economically feasible.

After a five-year vacancy, a “For Sale” sign was finally put on the school property in early 2013. On May 10, SCNA received notification from MPS Chief Administrative Officer Mark Bollinger that the MPS Board may have a potential buyer for the property—a decision was going to be made at their May 14 meeting on whether to sell the school to a national developer who planned to put in a charter school. The MPS Board did not approve the sale to the national developer.

Upon receiving the news, SCNA Board members reached out to MPS Board members and City Council Member Barbara Johnson to request more time to learn more about the potential developer and this proposal and to inform residents. MPS Board member Ellison commented about the MPS Board decision that there was a lack of information in the overall proposal and she looked forward to meeting with Council Member Johnson and the neighborhood to discuss the potential next steps. Council Member Johnson said, “Once you sell [Shingle Creek Elementary School] you’ve lost control and it doesn’t belong to the public anymore.” A meeting is scheduled for early June. Check scna-mpls.org or SCNA newsletters for more details on next steps.