Como Congregational Church could become apartments and community center – The Minnesota Daily

If the city council approves it, construction could begin in the winter of 2022.

A rendering of the Congregational Church of Como after a complete restoration, with apartments and a community center. Photo courtesy of Joel Hussong

The Congregational Church of Como, located on 14th Avenue, could have a facelift if the city council passes it in late January, with the addition of six apartments and a community center.

This project could revitalize the 1886 church building, which has been vacant for several years, said Larry Crawford, president of the Como Community Center. The community center will organize neighborhood meetings, plays and religious services.

Current plans include two three-bedroom, two four-bedroom and two five-bedroom units, totaling 24 rooms as well as a community center located in the sanctuary. There will be no parking spaces, but there will be 20 bicycle racks.

Urban Canopies developer Joel Hussong said he expects the apartments to have a mix of residents, including students and families. The rent for each apartment will vary, but Hussong expects each room to cost between $ 500 and $ 600.

Minneapolis planning regulations do not allow apartments with so many units in residential areas. The developer has therefore requested an area exemption, which was approved by the planning committee on December 6 and will be presented to Minneapolis city council in late January. If passed, Hussong said he plans to start construction soon after.

Although Hussong has purchased the entirety of the property on which the church sits, he will donate the portion of the shrine to the Como Community Center nonprofit. Hussong will update the apartments while the Como Community Center redesigns the shrine.

The renovations to the community center are estimated at around $ 500,000 and are funded by donations to the Como community center, Crawford said.

The Como Community Center also wants to remake the exterior of the building to match the original design. Plans include painting the stucco red to make it look like the original brick exterior and restoring the wood shingles on the turrets, Crawford said.

“Somewhere along the line, probably for maintenance reasons, they covered the whole building with stucco and a lot of details were lost,” Hussong said.

Complicated relationship with developers

Hussong said he was the sixth person to have a purchase contract for the property, but the first to have plans to renew the building because other developers wanted to demolish it. The organization of the neighborhood prevented a demolition of the church.

“There is a lot of mistrust between the neighborhood and the developers,” Hussong said. “There are a lot of divisions in the neighborhood. Probably the biggest concern is the difference between existing owners and people who want to renovate properties and rent them out.

For many developers, it’s cheaper and easier to tear down an old building rather than rehabilitate it, said Paul Marzahn of Saving Sacred Spaces.

In the past, Crawford has opposed certain developments in the neighborhood, but is excited about the project. The plans for the church were presented ahead of the Southeast Como Improvement Agency’s land committee meeting on December 2 and received strong support for the building given the restorative nature of the project. .

“This project is extraordinary in that no other for-profit developer has ever offered any of the neighborhoods some real estate,” Crawford said. “It’s a real benefit because it’s actually something that will benefit the community to have this center… and it’s specifically focused on Como.”

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