Downtown art gallery owner Bill Hosko has a bone to pick with the Metropolitan Council over the impending demolition of two sizable bus shelters at Fifth and Minnesota streets in downtown St. Paul.
Hosko said the ornate shelters cost upward of $316,000 to erect in 1998, and he thinks the Victorian-looking structures can be repaired at modest expense. The Met Council maintains that the deteriorating shelters were designed for a 20-year life span and they need new roofs and other improvements.
The shelters were 80 percent federally funded.
The Met Council plans to replace them entirely this summer, which city planners consider a relief. They're currently blocking sidewalk access along Fifth Street and don't fully accommodate the disabled.
A single new shelter will replace the two on Fifth Street and a second new shelter will be installed by the Pioneer Press building at Fifth and Cedar streets. Bus boarding areas at Sixth and Cedar and Minnesota and Sixth will also receive improvements, which include public art components, security upgrades, real-time arrival signs, new lighting, bicycle amenities and landscaping.
The improvements, costing about $2.45 million, are covered by a federal Bus Livability grant awarded to Metro Transit.
Among Hosko's suggestions to the Met Council regarding the existing Fifth Street shelters, he's asked for a speaker system to be installed that plays uplifting music.
"To destroy them is an inexcusable waste of taxpayer money and a great disrespect to the pride and craftsmanship that went into creating them in the first place," Hosko wrote in an April 30 letter to Met Council Chair Sue Haigh.
SPA, ST. KATE'S, MCDONALD'S
St. Paul Academy and Summit School will ask the city for a height variance in order to build a theater addition and a new parking lot west of Wheeler Street.
The new lot, at 1712 Randolph Ave., will replace an existing lot east of Wheeler and south of Randolph. City ordinances allow a building height of 30 feet; the proposed building would peak at 50 feet at the corner of Juno Avenue and Wheeler, and measure 35 1/2 feet at Randolph and Wheeler.
A hearing has tentatively been scheduled before the Board of Zoning Appeals for 3 p.m. May 28 at St. Paul City Hall.
Not far down the street, St. Catherine University has submitted site plans to the city to expand the Butler Center, student athletic facilities at 2004 Randolph Ave.
McDonald's has informed the city that it plans to demolish an existing McDonald's building and parking lot and construct a new one at 2322 W. Seventh St.
MALCOLM SHABAZZ REMODEL
The Twin Cities Housing Development Corp. plans a major remodel of the Jamestown Homes, otherwise known as the Malcolm Shabazz Apartments, at 564 Central Ave.
The corporation would buy the four-building, 73-unit affordable rental housing complex from BNV Limited Partnership and rehab the property. According to materials submitted to the city, the buildings were built in the 1970s and are in need of new roofs, windows and siding, as well as heating and ventilation systems and cabinets and appliances.
The corporation will ask the city for up to $1 million in grants or loans to help with the remodel, which could take place in 2016. Construction estimates have yet to be released.
Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172. Follow him at twitter.com/FrederickMelo.
Copyright 2014 - Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.