Despite protest efforts by local residents, demolition on St. Andrew’s Church in St. Paul’s Warrendale neighborhood will begin Monday.
The 92-year-old church is owned by the Twin Cities German Immersion School, which bought it six years ago and has been using it as a gym and a cafeteria for students.
It plans to demolish the site to make way for an expansion to its campus, prompting some local residents to form the group, Save Historic St. Andrew’s.
The group first sought historical designation for the church through the St. Paul City Council. The council voted the proposal down 5-0 on June 5, with Council Member Kassim Busuri absent and Council Member Jane Prince abstaining.
Council members said they did not want to designate the area against the will of the building owners. At a public hearing leading up to the vote, students from the TCGIS spoke against the proposal, advocating instead for increased space for future students.
A legal battle then ensued, with Save Historic St. Andrew’s filing a suit in Ramsey County District Court claiming the demolition violated the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act. The court delayed demolition on the condition that the group would post an almost $2 million bond.
“We are disappointed that we were unable to persuade the court on this initial record that a preservation order would impermissibly undermine educating school children in a proper setting,” said Julie Alkatout, chair of the TCGIS Board of Directors in a statement following the ruling.
When Save Historic St. Andrew’s challenged that ruling and sought a lower number, the Court of Appeals maintained the amount. Unable to raise $2 million by the July 23 deadline, plans for demolition moved on. As of Monday, a GoFundMe to raise the necessary $2 million has raised around $10,000.
Now demolition is set to begin Monday. Save Historic St. Andrew’s condemned the move on Facebook.
“Now, in an unconscionable insult to the environment, all this will end up in a landfill,” a post from the group read.