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Old church is ready for new life

It's been a long time coming but finally Rosemount's Steeple Center is now open to the public.

Parks director Dan Schultz said there are a few minor items left on the project but the former St. Joseph's Church is ready for use.

"It's 95 percent complete," said Schultz.

Improvements to the building, constructed in 1924, included fixing some water damage, repairs to the roof and steeple to prevent further water damage, the addition of a fire suppression system, the addition of a larger stage area, new carpet and paint. A ramp was added and doors widened to meet American's with Disabilities Act standards.

The final cost of the project is estimated at $300,000. That number is about $30,000 higher than the original number projected, but Schultz said the council approved several change orders to the project including the addition of a larger stage area and new carpet.

On Friday the community celebrated the opening of the center with a ribbon cutting. Schultz said the event went well and that people complimented the fresh new look of the building.

Interest in the building is already high. Schultz said the parks department has already received a number of calls from people hoping to rent out the space.

"It's a positive outlook right now," said Schultz.

Getting the center open has been no small task. The former church has sat mostly vacant since the city bought the building in 2004. St. Joseph's continued to use the school portion of the building through the 2008-09 school year.

In 2007 the city council created a task force to determine the best public use for the building. In 2008 the group recommended the former St. Joseph's campus become an arts and cultural center.

A referendum, that would have included money to upgrade the building, failed in 2008.

In January 2010 the council voted to make enough upgrades to the building to get it open for public use. Schultz said there will be further upgrades needed in the future but added that those could wait until money was available in the city's budget.

While the fate of the church portion of the building has been decided, the future of the school section is still in the air. Several ideas have come up, including building some sort of the senior living facility on the plot. Nothing has been decided.

Schultz anticipates the council will look at the matter more closely in the coming months.

For more information on the Steeple Center visit

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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