Pending a miracle, demolition of historic St. Paul church could start next week

A historic church in St. Paul could be torn down as early as next week unless an advocacy group can come up with a miracle by Monday.

A legal decision last Monday was a mixed bag for "Save Historic St. Andrew’s."

"The court ruled that it’s protected but the court also said you have to come up with a bond," explained Save Historic St. Andrew’s consultant Tom Goldstein.

A judge allowed a temporary restraining order preventing the demolition of the church but required a nearly $2 million bond to be put in place by Monday afternoon. The group has filed an emergency motion with the state Court of Appeals but, if that motion isn't granted, or the money isn't raised, the restraining order will expire at 2 p.m.

Without a miracle, the group says its beloved former church could soon be gone.

"Buried my father, buried my mother, buried my relatives, did weddings, baptisms," explains neighbor John Forliti. "There was so much meaning in that building, not just for me but for thousands of people."

Sunday, the group rallied on a prayer for $1.9 million by Monday afternoon.

"If we don’t come up with a bond, and they get a demo permit, they’re free to frustrate the court and our efforts," says Goldstein.

Group members say demolition could start as early as next week as the Twin Cities German Immersion School, which now occupies the building, works to expand its school.

"I had a plant sale and made $815 from yesterday and today," said Quentin Nguyen, who lives in St. Paul. "I will give all this money to the group to save this building."

While supporters scramble in the 11th hour, Twin Cities German Immersion School Board leaders wrote in a statement: “This issue has been difficult for the community and we are glad to be moving forward.”

"Charter schools in Minnesota are public schools," added St. Paul Councilmember Jane Prince. "They purchase property, they remodel property with taxpayer dollars."

Last month, all but one St. Paul city councilmember voted against the historic designation of the property. Councilmember Jane Prince recused herself from the decision, concerned demolition will only cement divisions in the Como Neighborhood.

She says, "The chances that they might want to expand to K-12, that they could eventually decide to leave this space makes it that much more worrisome."

The charter school also says if there's no court order preventing them from getting their permit to demolish, they'll start that process next week.