On Tuesday, the Economic Development Authority (EDA) stationed in front of the Polos building, next to Lewis Drug on 1st Ave. to collect community feedback about transformation options. Representing the EDA was Executive Director Jamie Scheffer with Architect James Arentson of Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership.
Anyone who passed or stopped by were offered complete details on each option and, if desired, a glance inside the building through the glass windows.
Three transformation options were first presented by Arentson to the St. James City Council in early August. The current options include complete demolition of the building, including the facade. This idea would cost $5,000 set aside by the City and County to either put gravel or plant grass, etc. Secondly, a public space where the contractor would preserve the existing facade and a portion of the roof and sidewalls. Grants would be pursued to create a fun and inviting space. The last and most recently added option is an enclosed commercial shell. The facade would be updated to be energy efficient with an enclosed back to form a complete shell of a building. The intent would be to see the building for commercial use.
“Right now, the council just needs direction,” said Arentson.
The feedback being collected allowed many to share ideas on how each option could be used. One piece of feedback collected came from Marta Portillo, member of Convivencia Hispana.
“She suggested making it a culture house,” said Scheffer. “The first month would be Mexico. So, anyone Mexican in the community could display their art, have food and cooking events, different stuff like that. Then the next month could be German. So, an extension of what United Cultures is doing.”
The feedback collected from the public was presented and further discussed at a community meeting on Thursday, allowing the public to voice their ideas or concerns. The feedback will be condensed and presented to the St. James City Council at their next regular meeting to come to a decision on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.