Webber Library is groundbreaking

Some things take longer than we would like in our less than perfect world, but that doesn’t mean good things can’t or won’t happen. The decade-old promise to build a new Webber Park Library is moving one giant step closer to reality. Hennepin County is inviting the public to the Webber Park Library groundbreaking event on April 12. The celebration is scheduled for 5 p.m. and will be at the construction site, 4440 Humboldt Ave. Street parking is available near the construction site. The groundbreaking is the culmination of years of dreaming about and planning for the new library.

Sealed Requests for Proposals (RFP) were due on February 17, and five companies forwarded proposals, including AP Midwest LLC; Terra General Contractors, LLC; Versacon Inc.; Loeffler Construction Consulting, LLC; and Shaw-Lundquist Associates, LLC. The project award date is scheduled for April 3.

Hennepin County expects to award the contract to the proposal that offers the best value based on the requirements of the RFP. Hennepin County also emphasized the necessity that the proposer is able to complete the project without delay and without cost increases, insuring a grand opening of the new library in the spring of 2017. The total construction budget range for the 8,400 sq. ft. building and exterior landscaping requirements is $4,850,000 and $5,200,000. Construction will begin this spring.

The public art selection process will begin soon, with a selection committee made up of representatives from the community, arts organizations and Hennepin County staff. The committee will develop a request for qualifications (RFQ), review the proposals and ultimately select the artwork for the new library.  Any Hennepin County building project of $1 million or more, dedicates 1 percent of the total cost to public art. Public art is defined as “an original work of visual art that is accessible to the public. It is designed for a specific location, reflects the local community, and is intended to support the library as a gathering place where all residents come to learn, grow, and spend time together.”

The new library is designed to be open and flexible with outdoor reading spaces, a rainwater retention pond, meeting areas and increased access to technology and library collections. Until the construction is complete community members are encouraged to visit the temporary library at the Camden Center on Webber Parkway and Lyndale Avenue. There are a number of ways to stay engaged, including taking part in the many activities planned by Webber Park Librarian Larry Longard and the Friends of Webber Park Library. For more info on the Webber Park Library building project visit hclib.org/about/building-projects/current-projects-container/current-projects/webber-park-library/webber-park-library-project.

In related developments, Pillsbury United Communities (PUC) announced that Cargill Foundation has committed $500,000 toward the North Market, the grocery store that PUC will build and operate on the former Kowalski Grocery Store at 44th and Humboldt, adjacent to the new library. PUC has committed to working collaboratively with Hennepin County to assure continuity of design between the two projects. PUC is planning for a grocery store that will be a “one-of-a-kind” store with health and community resources integrated into the North Market. For info on this project visit puc-mn.org/venture/north-market.