Payne-Maryland project, now named, on track to open this spring

The Arlington Hills Community Center, also known as the Payne-Maryland project, should be ready to open in late spring, and will hold a new library, recreation center and more. (submitted photo)

Committee-picked artists will cap off the project

The city-owned 40,000 square foot structure will house the Arlington Hills Library, a St. Paul Parks and Recreation facility, a digital media center geared towards teens, and community meeting rooms.

Brian Tourtelotte from St. Paul Parks and Recreation, who’s the project manager for the construction of the building, said crews are working on a variety of finishing work -- they’ve laid tile and painted most of the walls, and they’re installing the wood flooring in the gymnasium and putting in ceilings -- in short, things are more or less on schedule.

“It looks like pretty much by the end of January, the majority of the construction is going to be done,” Tourtelotte said.

From there, it’s a matter of passing inspections and completing detail work. The city is shooting for a late spring grand opening.

“It should definitely open before school lets out,” he said.

Library opening set

Jill Boldenow, spokesperson for St. Paul Public Libraries, said the new Arlington Hills Library should be open by early May at the latest -- there’s a grand opening scheduled for May 4.

The library’s current location, a historic Carnegie building at 1105 Greenbrier St., will close down March 1, Boldenow said, to begin transferring materials to the new library.

That could leave a roughly two-month gap where there’s no libary services in the area.

“We’re trying to keep the time period between the old facility and new facility as short as possible,” Boldenow said.

Teens too

City staff are hoping the Arlington Hills Community Center will also be a destination for teens -- the place will feature a teen media lab, which will be staffed by both parks and recreation and library workers. In addition, Brookes said the teen center will also bring in mentors from different youth organizations around the city.

The teen zone, located in the basement of the building, will feature a recording studio, laptop computers, computer tablet devices, a video editing suite and a green screen, and technology software such as the Adobe suite, Brookes said.

The design for the center is based on a similar project in Chicago called the YOUmedia center, which is part of the Chicago Public Library system, Brookes said. St. Paul staff have done training with YOUmedia staff, and have visited the Chicago teen center.

Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at, or follow on Twitter at @ESRPatrickLark.


Artists’ touch

As a way to personalize the new Arlington Hills Community Center, city staff have enlisted artists at Works Progress Studio to create an art project for the new community space.

A public art project committee, comprised of representatives from St. Paul Public Libraries, St. Paul Parks and Recreation, the Payne Phalen District Five Planning Council, and other St. Paul community members, chose them. They looked at proposals from a number of artists before selecting Works Progress.

The goal was to find someone “interested in bringing people together in new ways to explore the stories of the East Side community,” according to a statement from St. Paul Public Libraries.

Colin Kloecker, co-director of Works Progress, said the group “is trying to do a cultural survey of the landscape of the East Side” for the project.

He said the idea is for the project to be true to the identity of the East Side and “be the catalyst for relationship building” at the new community center.

“It’s not going to be a mural ... its going to be something different”

The $90,000 art project is financed through the city’s Public Art Ordinance, which requires that St. Paul capital projects involve artists from starting with the planning stages and going throughout project design up to the project’s completion.

Joanna Brookes, public services director for St. Paul Public Libraries, said the art “should be interesting and thought-provoking, but we don’t know exactly what it’s going to be.”

But it won’t be boring, she assured. “It will not be a bronze bust of anybody.”

The group will pitch an idea in May, to be approved by library administration, and will likely play a role in the library’s grand opening.


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