By Jane McClure
The long-awaited redevelopment of the former Fire Station 10 at 754 Randolph Ave. is finally moving ahead. Developer Travis Temke has been working on plans to purchase the two-story building from the city and convert it into a restaurant, microbrewery, taproom and event center.
Temke and Alan Catchpool of the Kimley Horn engineering firm presented the site plan during a virtual meeting on May 12 to the West Seventh/Fort Road Federation, which agreed to support the project. There is no construction start date or estimated opening date yet for the restaurant, microbrewery and taproom, which would hold about 100 people. The second-floor event space would be part of a second phase of construction and would have a capacity for about 200.
The Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit in the fall of 2018 that required more parking for the event center, either through a parking variance or shared parking agreement. That could require another set of approvals from the commission or city’s Board of Zoning Appeals.
Temke said he is hoping to work out an agreement to lease space from St. Francis de Sales parish, which owns a parking lot on Juno behind the former fire station. He also will be seeking final developer status from the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
It has been a long and winding path for the project. Temke was the successful bidder out of about a dozen candidates and was designated as the tentative developer in 2017. He had hoped to open in 2019, but has been delayed by quests for historic designation for the building and financing issues, as well as Mayor Melvin Carter’s administration desire to further scrutinize the proposal.
Station 10, which was built in 1885 and was expanded 1911, was the oldest active firehouse in the city until 2010 when its fire company moved to the new Fire Station 1 on Randolph Avenue and West Seventh Street. Station 10 at one time served as the infirmary for ill or injured fire horses. It is considered historically significant because it was one of the first St. Paul fire stations that was racially integrated. It received historic designation in 2018, so the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission staff is involved in the review of the site plan.
Temke said he plans to preserve the building’s exterior. The only addition planned to the building will be a rear stair tower. Extensive landscaping is planned, and most of the driveway area in front of the building will be converted to a patio. The interior will be extensively renovated, with new electrical, heating and cooling systems.
Most of the shed behind the building will be demolished. A structure built in the early 20th century will become a trash enclosure.
While some West End neighbors are excited to the see the project finally moving forward, there are concerns about parking and alley traffic. The fire station site will have about 20 off-street spaces that will be accessed from an alley that leads from Juno.
The alley was moved to the west at the request of parish officials several years ago. Federation board members, parish representatives and the development team discussed ways to make sure the parking area shared by the church and Sandcastle Child Care is safe and that there is no cut-through traffic.
One issue for the parish is a city requirement that was placed on Temke’s public financing plan for his staff to include people who are coming out of prison. The parish is concerned since Sandcastle has about 150 children enrolled.
“That’s a showstopper for us,” said Steve Carter, the parish’s business administrator. Temke said he would carefully screen people during the hiring process.
Temke has secured $695,000 in public financing from the city, including a $220,000 forgivable note, $225,000 in Sales Tax Revitalization funds, a $200,000 federal block grant and $50,000 from the city for a fire suppression system.
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