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UMN seeks to buy Stadium Village Church property

The property would likely house a proposed University clinical facility.
Site of Stadium Village Church property, recently bought by the University in Minneapolis on Thursday, June 18.
Image by Jasmin Kemp
Site of Stadium Village Church property, recently bought by the University in Minneapolis on Thursday, June 18.

University of Minnesota administrators have made plans to buy the Stadium Village Church property, furthering progress toward a clinical research facility. 

The Board of Regents reviewed the Stadium Village Church property sale earlier this month, with a vote likely to be made in July. The property, which would be acquired for about $5.75 million, houses the church, ministry housing and a surface parking lot. In place of the church, the proposed facility is meant to expand health resources on the eastern portion of campus.

“We’ve had these discussions going on for years … It seemed like this was our opportunity to make a move,” said Lowell Busman, the church’s pastor, referring to changes occurring around the property.  “If you get more and more surrounded by a hospital and clinics, you start losing touch with, actually, the campus.”

The Stadium Village Church — located at 501 Oak St. SE — was built at the site in 1904, but the Presbyterian church itself was founded in 1888, Busman said. 

The block that houses the property, known as Block 11, is bordered by Oak Street Southeast, Essex Street Southeast, Fulton Street Southeast and Ontario Street Southeast. University administrators would like the block to be used for the proposed Clinical Research Facility, but other properties would still need to be acquired, said Leslie Krueger, the University’s assistant vice president of planning, space and real estate. 

The design of the facility will be determined by how much property the University is able to acquire, she said.

This year, the University requested state capital funding through the Legislature to help with the design, land acquisition, site preparation and early construction services for the facility. Krueger said the University expects to make another request for the construction aspect next year. The state Legislature has not yet allocated capital funds for the University this year.

Krueger also said the University plans to close on the property in October and lease it back to the church while renovations are underway on the new church property — set to be located in Prospect Park further east along University Avenue. 

“We feel the new location will actually be a better one for us,” Busman said. “Being on a light rail will have … more accessibility for students from all parts of the campus.”

When the church was first built in the early 1900s, the University campus had not yet expanded into the Stadium Village area. 

Paul Poteat, a longtime property owner in Stadium Village who recently sold properties to the University, said property owners in the area expected University expansion.

“I personally like change like that and like development that I believe is going to benefit the community,” he said.

Krueger said at the regents meeting that the church had been looking at another property in Stadium Village, but ultimately opted for the University Avenue location. Aspects of the existing architecture, like the stained glass windows, will be moved to the new location to be displayed indoors as remnants of the historical location.

“It’s become kind of a sacred space … For some of the years, I’d spend every morning in the sanctuary praying,” Busman said. “The church still loves the U of M … We still want to stay connected.”

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