City and community members plan to transform a historic downtown St. James building

City and community members plan to transform a historic downtown St. James building

ST. JAMES, Minn. (KEYC) — The Polos Building along the downtown road in St. James is facing a tough decision.

Structural and property issues have become a challenge to keeping its history alive.

“Sitting down with the county, they went through a whole process of a number of meetings, looking at various options and decided the best option was probably demolition,” St. James Interim City Manager Joe McCabe said.

And the county said they’d cover 50% of the demolition costs.

But city officials sat down with city commissioners and agreed, they didn’t want to see the complete destruction of a downtown site.

“Demolition of the entire building is only one option – that’s the simple option that everybody might expect first,” Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership’s James Arentson said.

The expertise of the Southwest Minnesota Partnerships were brought in to look at options that would preserve a part of the structure.

“This is a unique point in time, because the city staff and counsel are very interested in the community’s perspective on this property and what the options are to pursue," Arentson said.

Now the focus is on transforming the space rather than erasing it.

“Even though we may not have a viable retail type business here, there are great opportunities here with a farmers market or an open air art show,” McCabe said.

And the list goes on.

The direction of the project will be awaiting community input on Sept. 10.

The community will have the opportunity to see the site and share ideas.

Then, on Sept. 12, the community center will host a formal session to talk about options, to eventually present the plan to the counsel.

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