The many drivers using side streets off University Avenue to maneuver around the organized chaos of light-rail construction may not notice the girders of a new building rising at Charles and Vandalia streets, just north of Park Midway Bank. But if all goes according to schedule, the three-story, $16 million health-care center and administrative headquarters for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota will be ready for occupancy at the end of 2011, just as the first phase of the Central Corridor project is wrapping up.
“This is an exciting new chapter in our 82-year history, made possible by the generosity of our many donors and supporters, who for generations have trusted us to provide quality, affordable and confidential health care services,” said Planned Parenthood President and CEO Sara Stoesz.
The new building will house a reproductive health clinic and administrative offices, which have been located at Planned Parenthood’s Highland Park location since 1976. It also will enable the organization to consolidate volunteer and community education and outreach services under one roof.
Constructed on the former site of an engineering firm and a vacant lot, the new Planned Parenthood building will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified. This attests that it is designed and built to improve energy savings, water efficiency and indoor environmental quality, and to reduce CO2 emissions. There also are plans to add boulevard trees and plantings where few currently exist.
“We’re hopeful that our presence will help bring a new vitality to the area and encourage further economic investment in the neighborhood,” Stoesz said.
The new location is more centrally located than the Highland site and close to the Raymond Station on the Central Corridor light rail line.
Anti-abortion protestors have often demonstrated at the Highland Park building and presumably will follow Planned Parenthood to its new home.
“Fully 95 percent of our services are preventive, including birth control and information to prevent unintended pregnancy, cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually-transmitted infections and preconception care,” Stoesz said, adding that Planned Parenthood offers a range of sex-education programs for women, men, teens and parents.
“Protestors attempt to harass our staff and patients every day at our Highland Park Clinic, but that has never stopped us from providing women with the dignified and compassionate care they seek and deserve, nor will it in the future,” Stoesz said.
Roger Bergerson, a former newspaper reporter, is a freelance writer and longtime Como Park resident.