FHA Advocates for Redevelopment
The historic Highland Pool House is close to the tipping point between preservation and demolition. Funding to stabilize the Highland Park Pool House has been a perennial Saint Paul Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) request by Parks and Recreation and the Highland District Council (HDC). Limited CIB funds are highly competitive and have not been awarded to restore this building to a use for the community.
- In July 2015, Friends of Highland Arts (FHA) requested a meeting with Councilmember Tolbert, Saint Paul Parks & Recreation leadership, and representatives from the Highland District Council (HDC) to discuss the future of the historic Highland Park Pool House building, and the possibility of restoring to community use as an “Arts and Recreation” venue. Everyone agreed the HP Pool House building should be reused rather than demolished.
- From July to November 2015, FHA surveyed the Highland Park community to determine what they would like to see at the redeveloped Pool House. This feedback was combined with results from earlier surveys coordinated by HDC in 2014..
- In September 2015, a walk-through of the site with Saint Paul Parks & Recreation leadership, Council Member Tolbert’s office, and representatives of HDC, FHA and the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, confirmed the building is in dire need of repair with holes in the roof and a buckling floor.
- In October 2015, the HDC passed a resolution of support to work in partnership with FHA on the historic Highland Pool House; to proceed with community engagement to identify the best use of the Pool House, and urge the city to determine a way to make it a successful asset in our community.
- In November 2015, as a result of the walk-through, Parks & Recreation secured emergency CIB maintenance funds to replace the roof allowing for future reuse of the site.
- In June 2016, FHA partnered with HDC to host a free music concert on the Pool House grounds.
- In June 2017, FHA again partnered with HDC and Parks and Recreation for another free community concert. Food trucks and plenty of activities for children provided.
- FHA plans to continue offering free arts- related programming at the Pool House in partnership with HDC and Parks and Recreation and advocate for development of this historic community building.
If structural, functional and aesthetic problems are addressed and repaired, and public utilities are restored to the building, the Pool House can be repurposed as a valuable location and destination for park visitors. Together with other key stakeholders, FHA hopes to have a leadership role in:
- Identifying potential redevelopment partners
- Seeking funding from private donors and public funding sources
- Facilitating design input for interior and exterior arts and programming space
The City of Saint Paul will retain ownership for the property, but may lease the building to a private party(s). In the long-term, FHA has the potential to take on the role of arts program management.