MCTC to improve look, flow of Downtown ramp

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August 18, 2003 // UPDATED 11:03 am - April 30, 2007
By: neapolis Community and Technical College's parking ramp expansion will add stalls; reduce traffic backups; and add trees, lighting and security, a school official said.
neapolis Community and Technical College's parking ramp expansion will add stalls; reduce traffic backups; and add trees, lighting and security, a school official said.

MCTC, 1501 Hennepin Ave. S., is also negotiating to buy the Billy Graham Evangelical Association building, 1300 Harmon Place, for classroom and office space and a possible private sector collaboration, said MCTC Facilities Administrator Daniel Kirk.

"There is no deal; there is some movement in negotiations," he said.

The 1,250-stall MCTC ramp is located on a triangular block bounded by Hennepin and Laurel avenues and 16th Street North. The $4.7 million addition would add one floor and 230 stalls, and make several other key ramp improvements, Kirk said.

"We are changing how the ramp operates," Kirk said. "We want to address the significant traffic congestion that has occurred in the past. . . . We plan to make it a greener, more neighborhood-friendly project."

The redesign will increase queuing spaces inside the ramp so cars can get off the street, Kirk said. It will route traffic differently, eliminating the left-turn access from Hennepin Avenue. Northbound traffic on Hennepin

will be diverted to 16th Street and enter off Laurel.

The project includes a new Hennepin Avenue faade, exterior lighting and boulevards with trees on 16th Street and Laurel, he said. The school will also improve interior lighting and monitoring.

The ramp upgrade partly stems from a major collaboration between MCTC and Metropolitan State University, said Kirk, a Metro State administrator who also works on contract for MCTC.

A previous plan envisioned Metro State moving from 8th Street and Hennepin Avenue to new space atop the MCTC ramp. Instead, MCTC is remodeling its campus to serve both institutions, Kirk said. It's a good fit, he added, because MCTC students use the facility primarily during the day and Metro State students have more night classes.

About 100 staff and faculty from Metro State will move to the MCTC campus.

"By remodeling existing space, we could share space to better use the campus and avoid having the capital expense of building a new building, saving $20 million," Kirk said.

MCTC President Phil Davis showed off a model and sketches of the proposed ramp renovation to members of the Loring Business Association at an Aug. 7 meeting. He sought input on the design, saying he wants neighbors to be involved in the decision-making process.

The designs generated few complaints. One business association member suggested that school officials beautify the sidewalk adjacent to the school along Hennepin Avenue by adding green space.

Ramp construction will start late this year, but most work will happen next summer, when the campus has less activity, Kirk said. Metro State programs should shift to MCTC's campus at the end of 2004.

This year, the State Legislature appropriated $10 million for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities' land acquisitions, Kirk said. It did not specify an amount for the Billy Graham property.

The Billy Graham Evangelical Association closed its headquarters and moved to Charlotte, N.C. Kirk said he expected the organization would sell the building in the next few months.

"We have looked at a number of potential uses," Kirk said. "We have had some discussions about a public-private partnership. Is there a way we could partner with a grocery store on the site? If we are able to acquire the site, we will continue to explore all these other options."