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Concerned Como Neighbors - 14th Avenue SE Minneapolis

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Como Neighborhood Petition

Como Congregational Church Building – 1035-1037 14th Ave SE


May 2022 -- Project Progress at Congregational Building

For the front auditorium portion of the building to become the Como Community Center, renovation architectural design is now mostly complete. Also, the large task of cleanout of abandoned materials from the space, to prepare for upcoming rehab work, has recently been finished. There has been additional engineering work done. The building has been re-surveyed for the legal work and new property ownership arrangement. Fundraising is underway, including corporate outreach and individual giving (including online). So the CCC team has been very active for our cause.

In the rear building portion that will become residential, the Urban Canopies firm is active on their renovation. The UC team plans to incorporate preserved elements of the building (glasswork, woodwork) into the interior design of this portion of the building, which is a very welcome step. For example, the UC team relocated some existing 1906 leaded-stained glass windows over to the east side of their building portion, so that this historic glasswork is more visible to be enjoyed by Como neighbors, passersby, and building visitors and residents.

To take part in this project, contact us: ConcernedComoNeighbors@gmail.com

December 2021 -- Ownership Transfer at Congregational Building /
Start of Rehabilitation Work on Building

Good news on project progress. The Congregational building purchase by the Urban Canopies organization completed this past week -- so this milestone in the joint Como Community Commons/ Como Community Center project is now complete. The new owner is committed to preserving the building and proceeding with the necessary property transfers so that the Como Community Center can be created in the building front portion. Rehabilitation contractors begin work this week, so the effort to restore the building is already active.

Mission Accomplished for Concerned Como Neighbors. With the transition to new preservation-oriented ownership, a major goal of this Concerned Como Neighbors campaign is now in view. The planned ownership transfer of the Congregational's front portion to the Como Community Center organization is anticipated to take place in several months. We hope that Concerned Como Neighbors campaign supporters will also give their support to the Como Community Center plan.

Upcoming activities are completion of the community center auditorium plans by the MacDonald & Mack preservation architecture firm, and an expansion of our fundraising campaign out to foundations to request support. The Congregational project will be presented at a Como community meeting on Thursday, January 13, at 6:30pm at the Van Cleve park building.

For additional Como Community Center (CCC) project updates, email info@comocommunitycenter.org
The project info website for the CCC rehabilitation project is located at www.comocommunitycenter.org

Concerned Como Neighbors

December 2021 -- News Coverage of Congregational Building Project

The Minnesota Daily newspaper published this week an article describing the preservation status at the Congregational building, and the 3-organization joint project to rehabilitate the building for new uses --

https://web.archive.org/web/20211216174251/https://mndaily.com/270283/news/como-congregational-church-could-become-apartments-and-community-center/

The initial building purchase is expected this coming week. After the initial purchase, the subdivided auditorium portion and the landscape grounds portion will be transferred by Urban Canopies to the Como Community Center (CCC). Then CCC, assisted by the Twin Cities Saving Sacred Spaces nonprofit, will begin rehabilitation of the community center portion and community gardens.

December 2021 -- Congregational Building Project Approved at City Planning Commission

We're happy to share that the Congregational building preservation cause won approval at the city Planning Commission on December 6. This is the proposal submitted by Urban Canopies for the joint project with Como Community Center (CCC). With this Planning approval, the next step is review and approval at the city Council, set for late January or early February. Neighbors from CCC and the Concerned Como Neighbors group are meeting with the two Como council members to present the Congregational project, its preservation and community service goals, so we are hopeful of a good outcome at this next governmental review. Meanwhile, the architect teams continue their work to fill out the options and enhancements for building restoration, and purchase acquisition of the building is going through closing paperwork -- more news on those areas soon.

Other information is posted on the project website at --

www.ComoCommunityCenter.org

December 2021 -- A Preservation Win at the Como SECIA association, On To City Planning Review

A big win for Congregational building preservation: The Como SECIA neighborhood association Land Use committee met in November, and by a tally of 10 to 1 the meeting endorsed the joint project proposal for the Como Community Center & Como Community Commons residence, as the best option to preserve and revitalize the Congregational building. This enabled the local association to send its statement of endorsement on to the city Planning Commission, to help gain Commission approval on December 6.

November 2021 -- Preservation and reuse project at Como Congregational building --
public meeting for community discussion

The Como SECIA association's Land Use committee met and meeting attendees endorsed the Como Community Center / Como Community Commons Residential project . Earlier, in March 2020, the SECIA board had approved a resolution as follows “The Southeast Como Improvement Association (SECIA) supports the preservation of the Como Congregational Church at 1035 14th Avenue SE, opposes building demolition and supports a constructive adaptive reuse of this historic building.”

October 2021 -- Preservation and reuse project at Como Congregational building --
public meeting with input discussion about the building event use and grounds design

Good news about the project to preserve and reuse this Como landmark building. The joint Como Community Center / Urban Canopies organizations project at the building has been making progress during recent months. The goals of preservation and reuse of the church have been given support by city representatives and the neighborhood association, and by 160 neighbors, and this fall neighbors are working to make those goals happen at this wonderful Como landmark.

It's now time for another public community meeting about this valuable Como project, and for gathering another round of community input. Your ideas about the building count! Please join us next week on Tuesday October 19 to discuss project aspects such as ideas for events and activities at the center, and ideas for good community use of the building grounds as gardens, historic info signage, and bike parking, and other Q&A.

We'll convene as a breakout group on the SECIA association community project night meeting, Tuesday Oct 19 at 6:30, online as a Zoom meeting. The meeting agenda begins at 06:30 PM with general community updates, then there is project discussion breakout. Anyone with web access and a browser can attend. Be sure to make your meeting registration in advance at

https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMtde6gr...

to receive the URL link that you use to join the meeting on Tuesday night October 19.

Please join us, we hope to see you there!

June 2021 -- Como Congregational historic landmark designation status

The Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) met Tuesday June 22 on the designation for the Como Congregational building.

There was some brief, superficial discussion, but it regrettably did not seem to dig into the evidence and argument that Como neighbors submitted about the importance of historic figures so interwoven with the church such as Elwell and Sanford, and the historic role that the building had during its time period and as a factor in Como's early neighborhood identity. A number of people, including some on the city Planning Commission, have expressed concern over the noticeable way that the Como Congregational building was found to have strong and specific qualification under several historic criteria in March 2020, but then later was not recommended for landmark status in the recent study prepared for the city by a consultant firm. In the end at the June 22 meeting, there was a vote against designation.

What is ahead for us as supporters of the building and its future?

- First and probably most important, the three organizations now at work to rehabilitate the building are committed to moving ahead regardless of the HPC landmark decision. Their goal is to respect and recreate the historic intent of the building's exterior facade appearance, and the sanctuary will be rehabbed and resume operation as a community-oriented event center with a variety of events. So we're asking you to give support to that project.

- A number of people were appalled with the cursory, rushed and disorganized nature of the HPC meeting this week. As a public body deliberation of an important matter, it appeared to be unacceptable. Many commissioners were silent or absent, and did not engage with the meeting topic. When key facts and significance evaluations about the building were were brought forward to the HPC to make a challenge and to argue in favor of landmark designation, the response was not made to this new information and resulting larger historic significance factors, instead it was to simply assure the public in attendance that the external consultant report had quality. So, as a public body deliberation the meeting seemed to fall very short of the mark. The question of the building's landmark nomination now moves to a city council committee in July. We may be able to put onto the record more information from other historic experts to support designation, and the simple fact that the HPC meeting did not give an adequate and fair hearing to preservation views for the building is another concern that will be brought forward to the city council committee. So contacting council members from Como -- Cam Gordon, Kevin Reich -- is once again an important thing for everyone to do.-- asking them to give the matter of landmark status for Como Congregational a fair and adequate hearing.

So while the result of this HPC meeting was very disappointing, there is now solid progress taking place towards preserving the building and putting it back into a positive place in Como neighborhood life. And there is still further city consideration about the building and an opportunity to present our case built up on fuller historic facts and understanding of church building significance.

June 2021 -- A joint project for preservation, rehabilitation and reuse of the historic Como Congregational building

There is a new project proposed for rehabilitation and reuse of Como Congregational. The proposal combines a community activities center together with rental residential use. This is a joint project involving several organizations from Como and Minneapolis. Several members of the Concerned Como Neighbors group are part of the proposal, by way of a new Como nonprofit organization -- the "Como Community Center" organization. The new project proposal will be presented and discussed at the SECIA Land Use meeting, open to the Como public, on Wednesday, June 16, at 7pm Please attend to see and hear more about the proposal. Zoom meeting registration is required, please contact ConcernedComoNeighbors@gmail.com for information.

November 22 2020 -- Minnesota Daily newspaper article about
Como Congregational building historic status and preservation efforts

Read the Minnesota Daily article at --

https://mndaily.com/264050/news/southeast-como-chu...

October 27 2020 -- Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) approves the historic nomination of Como Church !!

In a major win for the church building and its preservation and future reuse, the nomination of Como Congregational for consideration as a Minneapolis landmark status was approved by a 5-1 vote at the HPC.

This approved nomination moves us forward towards a permanent designation of the building as a Minneapolis historic landmark. The next step is that a Minneapolis Historic Preservation planner will do in-depth study of the building, and the several historic criteria that apply to it. Meanwhile, the building is protected for a year during its study.

Concerned Como Neighbors are confident, because each time as more is known about the church, it becomes more clear how significant and important it is as a Como neighborhood landmark. We will try to support the study of the church, and push for final approval of its landmark status.

We hope you are pleased and enthusiastic that this process is moving forward to recognize the significant interest and stake that the Como and Minneapolis public at large has in this historic building in our midst.

While this historic recognition process is taking place, the Concerned Como Neighbors group continues to meet with preservationists, architects, and nonprofit groups to identify best options for a renewed use of the building. Historic designation by Minneapolis fits in well with this planning.

Please email the Concerned Como group at concernedcomoneighbors@gmail.com with questions or comments. Information will also be posted at our website --

https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/concerned-como-neighbors-14th-avenue-se

"Come home to Como"

Concerned Como Neighbors

February 2020 -- Original Statement about Como Congregational

We undersigned Como neighbors and Minneapolis residents ask Minneapolis officials to deny project approvals, land use plans, upzoning, variances, and other special permitting for the proposed demolition and construction of a 3 floor, 39 bedroom rooming house at the Como Congregational Church, 1035 14th Avenue SE, in the middle of an established interior residential block (R2B).

We take this position for the following reasons:

  • Como "Blue Print" small area plan / Minneapolis comprehensive plan compliance. High density development is to be placed on traffic corridor avenues (East Hennepin, Como SE, 15th Avenue SE), not interior blocks. Approved city plans call for "no major change in land use in established neighborhoods."
  • Zoning / placement. Spot upzoning of single property lots within established residential R2B blocks is not justifiable by any community benefit, and is destructive to established neighborhood character.
  • Building / design. The proposed building is not compatible with the surrounding neighborhood housing pattern (single houses, duplexes) and conflicts with neighborhood character. City planning specifies “small scale” residences here.
  • Livability / traffic / parking. Increased traffic and parking from the proposal is injurious to the neighborhood. The block has a high level of bicycle traffic, pedestrian traffic, and children’s school bus traffic – all impacted by the proposal.
  • Environment / green space. Loss of green space, waste management, rainwater management, shadowing – numerous environmental issues created by proposal.
  • Density. With hundreds of new housing units, Como neighborhood has met and exceeded its share towards supporting this goal. This cannot be a justification for disrupting an established, livable residential block.
  • Diverse community housing. Como’s small area plan calls for diverse housing (by age, working/student, ethnicity, income). The proposal will not meet this diversity goal, it will not help sustain a healthy community mix of neighbors.
  • Resource. Como neighbors have spoken up in favor of adaptive community resource use of the church building, as the preferred and best use alternative.
  • Affordability. We challenge whether the proposal truly delivers affordable housing to Como, and suggest that the proposed development threatens the “naturally occurring affordable housing” (Mpls plan) that is already present in Como.
  • Destabilizing the neighborhood. As city officials have stated, the goals are for Minneapolis neighborhoods to have a healthy and diverse mix of neighbors: homeowners and renters, working people and students, young and old, families and singles, diverse ethnicity and income. Too much hyperdense rental can have a destabilizing effect on community life.

Signed: L&C Crawford, R Venberg, P Rode, G Friedemann, A&T Carlson, C Horswill, F Jirasek, C&B Christofferson, C Sullivan, J&C Swanson, W Menken, M Reguski, K Radford, W Potratz, P Dean

Please add your names to this page to support the Como neighborhood and preserve the church building !

******

New step towards historic study and status (July 3)

On July 3, Second Ward Council Member Cam Gordon made this announcement:

"Como Congregational Church.After City staff’s historic review of the Church building and property at 1035 14th Ave. SE found that it “appears to meet local designation criteria…and has been determined to be a historic resource,” and the local neighborhood association reviewed and formally supported nominating the property as an historic landmark, I have decided to nominate it for local historic designation. It will take several weeks to complete the nomination application that will then be considered by the Heritage Preservation Commission. If it is approved by them, interim protections will be put in place so a full study can be completed before a final determination is made."

Como neighbors truly welcome this action by Council Member Gordon and the City of Minneapolis, to do a full study of the Como Congregational Church's historic status and potential designation as a Minneapolis Landmark. Recognizing the building as an important part of historic heritage, and preserving it for a new era of activity in life for this century are worthwhile, positive goals that build community. Como neighbors will look to assist this historic study, and participate in discussions about historic designation.

Important and positive news! (April 10)

Como neighbors have learned that the developer has cancelled their purchase option contract and proposal to demolish the Como Congregational Church! We are overjoyed that strong and heartfelt community advocacy has made a difference for the better in this situation. What is next? Now that the City of Minneapolis has determined that the church building is a historic resource, Como neighbors intend to push forward to have the church nominated, studied, and then designated as a Minneapolis Historic Landmark. And at the same time, we are working to find the best pathway for a new community-oriented life for this wonderful Como building in this century.

Please contact Concerned Como Neighbors at concernedcomoneighbors@gmail.com if you wish to support this goal, so that we can contact you when your statements in support of historic status can be provided in the nomination/designation process. Thank you for your support

******

Important and positive news! (March 13)

Minneapolis has now determined that the Como Congregational Church is a "historic resource" under city code. The Historic Review Letter indicates that the church site appears to meet these criteria:

  • "Criteria 1: The property is associated with significant events or with periods that exemplify broad patterns of cultural, political, economic, or social identity. (The Como Avenue Congregational Church appears to be the first church constructed in the Como neighborhood ... As such, the building appears to be the oldest and only remaining community-centered building directly connected to the original 1880s Elwell plans for the Como neighborhood.)"
  • "Criteria 3: The property contains or is associated with distinctive elements of city or neighborhood identity: (Research suggests that the Como Avenue Congregational Church was among the neighborhood’s most-visited community spaces for many decades. The property appears to be a key part of the original Como community and remains a tangible testament to the Elwell family’s development of Como. Based on information available at this time, there does not appear to be a better extant example of a building that relays this history of the neighborhood’s original identity.)"

Also: "The property may potentially hold importance under Criteria 6 as an example of work of master builders, engineers, designers, artists, craftsmen, or architects.The property may hold further importance for the work of Charles Sedgwick, master architect."

This determination by Minneapolis provides important recognition to the building and site, provides some measure of protection for it during the next year, and -- most important -- opens the way for Como Congregational to be nominated and designated as a Minneapolis Historic Landmark -- an objective that Concerned Como Neighbors will now pursue. Please contact Concerned Como Neighbors at concernedcomoneighbors@gmail.com if you wish to support this goal, so that we can contact you when your statements in support of historic status can be provided in the nomination/designation process. Thank you for your support so far as Como looks for a positive, preservation-oriented future for this wonderful building!

concernedcomoneighbors@gmail.com

******

Other media coverage:

https://www.mndaily.com/article/2020/04/n-push-for-historic-status-could-slow-cancel-como-church-site-redevelopment

https://www.mndaily.com/article/2020/02/n-development-could-replace-historic-como-church

https://kstp.com/news/neighbors-upset-over-proposed-development-that-would-replace-longtime-minneapolis-church-february-27-2020/5658761/?cat=12196

Message of support from the Como neighborhood in St. Paul
https://www.facebook.com/historicstandrews1/

http://www.citypages.com/news/como-neighbors-bristle-at-plan-to-turn-church-into-39-bedroom-building/568410981


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