St. Cloud to Redevelop Tech High School Campus

In the Community

Seniors at St. Cloud Tech High School are getting ready to make history as the last class to graduate from the school’s original campus, built more than a century ago in the heart of the city.

The rest of the student body is getting ready to start classes next fall in the new $104.5 million, 116-acre campus at 3500 County Road 74, 1 mile northeast of the Interstate 94 and Trunk Highway 15 interchange in the south end of town. With graduation just months away, city officials are seeking proposals to redevelop the soon-to-be-empty campus with a mix of commercial and residential uses.

“Given the proximity to a great historic downtown on the Mississippi River, Lake George’s vitality, and the character of the existing school building, this redevelopment opportunity is not only unique in setting, but may not come along again for another 100 years,” said Matt Glaesman, community development director, in an email interview.

Planning started when voters in Independent School District 742 approved the new school in 2016 and school district officials agreed that the city should handle the redevelopment of the old campus. The idea is to create a vibrant new development that connects Eastman Park, Lake George, the St. Cloud State University and the city’s downtown. While the neighborhood will emphasize its walkability, it also runs along Division Street, which is Trunk Highway 23 and the main route through the city.

Proposals are due Jan. 18. A winner will be named in March and work could start as soon as the last books and desks are hauled away. City officials aren’t releasing the proposals until after the deadline, but the response has been encouraging, said Cathy Mehelich economic development director for the city.

“We have several parties looking,” she said.

To put the project on a fast track for developers, city officials have spent the last year meeting with neighbors, reviewing the location and working out zoning, traffic and construction issues. They even created sample site plans and put together a glossy report that illustrates some of the possibilities for the two parcels, along with information about the city and surrounding area.

“It’s shovel ready,” Mehelich said.

The campus includes two parcels. Site A is a 2.6-acre parcel along Division Street, between 13th and 14th avenues. It includes a one-story brick and concrete building, now used as the school district’s media services department, which could be repurposed as office space.

Site B includes the school’s main 9.6-acre campus, located on the corner of 12th Avenue and Seventh Street. It includes the original Tech High School, which opened in 1917, as well as a 1938 addition and several later additions, ending with the 1975 athletic wing.

The report envisions reusing the historic sections of the building, built in 1917 and 1938, while demolishing others to create new space for apartments. Site plans illustrate how the historic buildings and new construction could blend with existing development and new green space.

The report doesn’t lay out any financial terms for the project. The city has used a variety of public incentives to assist commercial, industrial, and residential redevelopment in the past, Glaesman said. He anticipates local, state, and federal incentives may be available, but declined to give specifics on possible aid.

St. Cloud is familiar territory for developers from the Twin Cities. Plymouth-based Dominium is under construction on 144 apartments and 36 townhomes at its Bluffs at Liberty Glen project at 2350 County Road 8 SE.

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