New Hope Wants the Winnetka Learning Center
Well the city of New Hope continues to think they’re in the real estate business. We’ve been reporting for a while now that they are interested in buying the Winnetka Learning Center and now the process is becoming official. From the Sun Post;
New Hope last week moved one step closer to buying a property now owned by the Robbinsdale School District. The New Hope City Council on March 26 voted 4-1 to authorize its city staff and city attorney to negotiate a purchase agreement for the acquisition of the Winnetka Learning Center and the surrounding school district property at 7940 55th Ave. N.
The council earlier agreed to offer $1.75 million for the property.
$1.75 million are you kidding? Where do you get this money city of New Hope? We pick up the paper and you tell us you’re broke!
Councilmember Dan Stauner cast the dissenting vote. “It is not wise at this time to buy this property,” Stauner said, adding that the city probably would end up developing the site with high-density housing similar to the Winnetka Green complex at Bass Lake Road and Winnetka Avenue North. “That market is dead and will be for the next decade,” Stauner said. “We don’t need to own this property. We will be looking at a vacant property for a decade.”
Of course, high density housing! Cram those people in so you can control them!
Stauner said the council should be “laser-focused” on development at City Center, 42nd and Winnetka avenues.
While we thank Mr. Stauner for his vote, we disagree with his reasoning. You shouldn’t be in the real estate business at all!
Buying the Winnetka Learning Center would amount to diversification of the city’s resources, both financially and staff-wise, Stauner said. “We’ve got better things to do with our resources; this isn’t it,” Stauner said.
Mayor Kathi Hemken disagreed. “This is a wise investment,” Hemken said. “I see Winnetka Green [type housing] going up all over the place.”
It’s not an investment Mayor Hemken, it’s spending!
Community Development Director Curtis Jacobsen said the city is hoping to get a closing date for the Winnetka Learning Center sometime late in 2012, or possibly early to mid-2013. “The school district wants to say in the building longer,” Jacobsen said.
Councilmember John Elder suggested that since neither of the gymnasiums at Winnetka is in use, they perhaps could be utilized by the city’s Park and Recreation gymnastics program that now is housed at the Sandburg Learning Center in Golden Valley. “There is some concern about that,” Jacobsen said. “When we do get to redevelopment, they would be without a space. We would prefer that they stay in a known location.”
According to Jacobsen, the heating bill at the Winnetka Learning Center is “phenomenal. “If the building were to be kept open just for the gymnastics program, Jacobsen said, the heating bill “would far exceed in a month what the gym program pays in a year.” The Winnetka Center has two gymnasiums: one on the ground level with 12-foot ceilings, and one on the second floor with 25-foot ceilings, Jacobsen said.
“Both are smaller than the one at Sandburg, but are very useable,” he said. However, Elder said the Sandburg Learning Center no longer will be available to New Hope’s Park and Recreation Department after December 2012, so the gymnastics program soon will be needing a new home.
“This is a paramount concern,” Elder said.
You’re going to pay $1.75 million for an old building and your paramount concerns are the gymnasiums?
The Winnetka Learning Center building, which was an elementary school until it was closed due to declining enrollment in the 1980s, now houses District 281’s Adult Academic program; Lifelong Learning for Youth and Adults, which includes seniors, summer activities and enrichment programs; Early Childhood Family Education; The Alternative Study Center; The Welcome Center; Community Education administration, including the Seven Dreams Foundation; and special education programs.
Lord have mercy on us.