St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman was thankful Tuesday for the Legislature’s largesse.
In the billion-dollar-plus public works construction package cobbled together by legislators, $81.7 million is directed to nine St. Paul projects, the mayor said.
“These job-creating projects contribute substantially to the economic vitality in our capital city, enabling us to create the kind of vibrant community where companies want to grow, people want to live and families from across the state and region can visit and explore,” Coleman said in a statement.
Some St. Paul proposals did get cut at the last minute to make way for statewide projects that would bring some Republican votes to the table, including improvements to the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary east of downtown St. Paul; a science building at St. Paul College; and funding for Como Zoo exhibits — although $5.4 million for roads and parking in Como Park did survive.
Key St. Paul projects that were funded are:
- Palace Theatre: $5 million. Funds will be used to renovate the historic Palace Theatre in downtown. The city plans to convert this 1916 theater into a 3,000-seat capacity theater, designed to host music, comedy, radio and contemporary arts shows. The theater will draw an estimated 180,000 people into downtown each year, providing a significant economic benefit for the downtown and regional area.
- Children’s Museum: $14 million. Funds will be used to expand and renovate the Children’s Museum for the purpose of incorporating the latest research on early learning, allowing for new state-of-the-art education facilities, and increasing the capacity of visitors to galleries and programming areas.
- Como Regional Park Access & Circulation Improvements: $5.4 million. Funds will be used to construct transportation and access improvements in Como Regional Park. The amount will finance intersections, realignments and improve access to Como facilities.
- Twin Cities Public Television Public Media Commons: $9 million. Funds will be used to renovate the station’s existing 82,000 square foot facility to streamline production of digital, multi-platform media and to create a new public space for community engagement within the current footprint at the Twin Cities Public Television building.
- Dorothy Day Center ReVision: $6 million. Funding will go toward the construction of a new shelter with critical support services available to people from around the state who experience homelessness.
- Metro State University: $35.865 million. Funding will go toward construction of a new Science Education Center. The University serves more than 11,500 students, including 700 natural sciences majors, but has lacked appropriate laboratory facilities to prepare students for STEM-related careers, including healthcare professions and science teaching.
- Ordway Theater: $4 million. Funding will support the expansion of the Ordway to include the new concert hall.
- Metro Regional Parks: $4 million. A portion of the funding ($896,000) will support regional parks in Saint Paul.
- Saint Paul College Initiatives: $1.5 million. Funds will be used to renovate two classrooms — the Culinary Arts Lab and the Computer Numerical Control Machine Tool Lab