Grain elevator and silos may stay

The Electric Steel Elevator in stands in Prospect Park on June 30, 2015. Last week, the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission voted to deny the demolition request of the elevator because of it's local historical significance.

Alex Tuthill-Preus, Daily File Photo

The Electric Steel Elevator in stands in Prospect Park on June 30, 2015. Last week, the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission voted to deny the demolition request of the elevator because of it’s local historical significance.

Christopher Aadland

After the University of Minnesota agreed to buy property on the campus’ borders in June, the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission voted to deny an application to demolish a grain elevator and silos that occupy the land last week. 
 
The building — a 114-year-old grain elevator that’s been abandoned since 2013 — sits on a nearly 5-acre parcel of land situated to the east of TCF Bank Stadium near the University’s Biomedical Discovery District that the school hoped to buy for eventual expansion of the campus.
 
The commission denied the proposal to raze the building after a city report concluded that the property is too historically significant to demolish, adding that the building is one of the few remaining steel elevator complexes in the country.
 
Riverland Ag Corp, the owner, wanted to demolish the building because it was unsafe and would be too expensive to remodel — opinions the commission disagreed with.
 
But the building, which was deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, could be repurposed or rehabilitated with help from state and federal programs, and safety concerns could be addressed, the report said.
 
“While the risk of these types of vacant buildings is certainly understood … demolition is not the only means necessary to correct an unsafe or dangerous condition on the property,” the report said, instead recommending additional security measures.
 
Since the University and the property’s current owner haven’t closed on the agreement, it has the option to cancel the nearly $1 million purchase if the building isn’t cleared for demolition, said Susan Carlson Weinberg, the University’s director of real estate.
 
“We’re hopeful that the City Council … will override the ‘no’ vote,” she said, noting that the land’s current owner, Riverland Ag Corp, will appeal the decision.
 
Riverland Ag Corp could not be reached for comment. As part of the purchase, the company agreed to demolish the elevator.
 
The push to demolish the abandoned grain elevator comes after recent deaths and injuries of trespassers in other unused grain elevators highlighted the dangers of the old structures, according to the report. 
 
Weinberg said the City Council will examine the commission’s decision in the coming weeks.