On April 21, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted unanimously to issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) for the Phillips Community Center, seeking tenants to utilize the space. The Board recently completed $1.5 million in renovations to the center, including a new HVAC system, and a new roof, according to the RFP. The building is set to re-open this summer.
Controversy over the center recently erupted over the status of the pool, which, along with the cafeteria. is still in disrepair. The park board was planning to destroy the pool on April 1, but then postponed the action to May 1. Partially due to vocal resistance of community members, decisions on the future of the pool are currently on a six month reprieve.
The main past tenant of the center was the Boys and Girls Club, which leased the gym, pool and cafeteria space from the Park Board for 20 years until the lease ended in 2007. The Park Board states that it has an interest in maintaining recreation programming and using the gym at the Center. Potential tenants would therefore add programming and services in addition to the recreation programming centered in the gym.
The park board lists the following attributes they are particularly looking for in potential tenants:
1) Community partners that will add programming and services compatible and complimentary to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
2) Utilizing all the space available in the building for community use.
3) A tenant that has the financial resources to renovate the interior space and provide rental income to offset the building utilities, operating costs and provide for long term building renovation.
4) A service provider with a strong interest in the community and a solid reputation for service.
Bob Albee, from Ventura Village Neighborhood Association, who has been one of the most vocal advocates for both saving the pool and instilling programming at the center that isn’t just youth-based, said that the good news about the park board’s decision is that each tenant can have a more maneagable task at hand when leasing the space.
“It allows us to just deal with just the swimming pool,” Albee said. He thinks that by allowing groups to apply for only one aspect of the building and one type of programming, they have made applying a lot simpler for interested tenants. Albee is currently collaborating with a number of different interested community members in coming up with a plan to keep the pool as a viable option, with additional health and wellness programming.