Downtown vacancy: city may consolidate space

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September 22, 2003 // UPDATED 11:04 am - April 30, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

It seemed like an easy vote -- extend the Civilian Review Authority (CRA) lease in the Grain Exchange Building month-to-month, with monthly rent reduction from $3,178 to $1,981, and get $14,364 annual savings.

The City Council voted Sept. 12 to postpone signing the lease.

Several members voiced concern that the city had vacant space in other buildings. The city could consolidate staff and save even more money.

City Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) said budget cuts mean 400 fewer people work for the city. The Crown Roller Mill building, 150 5th Ave. S., which houses the Community Planning and Economic Development Department (the successor of the Minneapolis Community Development Agency), has unused space.

Moving has a cost. Councilmember Sandy Colvin Roy (12th Ward), chair of the Transportation and Public Works Committee, said relocating CRA employees would cost $10,000 to $12,000, and reorganizing employees in other agencies to make room for CRA staff would cost $1,000 per employee.

Goodman said paying two years' rent at the Grain Exchange, 400 4th St. S., even under the new lease, would cost approximately $48,000 and more than that to cover the move's cost.

City Council President Paul Ostrow (1st Ward) said the city needed to efficiently use space but noted the city had no one to manage space -- that job got eliminated in budget cuts. The Council needed to revisit the issue during the 2004 budget talks, he said.

The Council sent the CRA lease issue back to the Transportation and Public Works Committee for further discussion of other options.