Community Center for Downtown/Lowertown

Project Idea

With the Capitol River District's increasing population, the lack of a Community Center is becoming a conspicuous problem. The neighborhood needs and deserves a reasonable, well-located facility to serve important community groups: Youths, Seniors, Active adults needing recreation, and Minorities, to mention just a few. The closure of the downtown YMCA makes this problem worse. It is time to find an effective solution, even if a creative new solution like a public-private partnership is needed.

Prepared by

Joe Baierl, 10/8/2020


To be Determined. The Union Depot, the Downtown YMCA, and the St. Paul Athletic Club are possibilities. There are no doubt others.

How does this fit the CRC Mission?

Building community within the district.

What are the first steps to take?

  1. Confirm that District 17 is the only one without a Community Center. If true, urgency will increase.
  2. Learn the YMCA's plan for its facility.
  3. Check in with John Rupp of the St Paul Athletic Club to see if he is still interested.
  4. Explore spaces available in Union Depot and what it would take to use some for a Community Center.
  5. Assemble a team to define and pursue the best option. Consider adding the large downtown Corporate residents who do not have club facilities for their employees.

Estimated Schedule

It depends. If there is an opportunity to repurpose an existing facility at reasonable cost, rapid action may be possible. Otherwise: 6 months to study and build a team, 6 months to plan, and another 1-2 years to implement. With a stronger team, possibly a formal consortium spreading capital and operating costs across private and public sponsors, a reasonable timeframe may be possible.

Other organizations that might support this project?

To be determined. There will be groups to support this, but finding funding and defining a reasonable plan will be important.

What community engagement do you think would be involved?

This is a big idea, and maybe all of the above will eventually apply. At this moment, I am thinking we study the options and assess potential funding before getting the Community too excited. In a robust City economy we might do it differently, using excitement to encourage action.

Estimated project budget

> $25,000

Specific funding source idea?

Not yet.

Additional Info



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  • Shevek McKee
    published this page in Our Work 2020-10-13 13:08:31 -0500