Macalester's new property

By April DeJarlais

With the construction of the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center soon to be underway, the three departments housed there must find new places that they can temporarily call home. The Macalester High Winds Fund is in the process of purchasing and renting buildings in the neighborhood to be used by the art, theater and music departments. On Wednesday a purchase agreement for $650,000 finalized the former HealthEast Clinic at 45 Snelling Avenue as Macalester property, Provost Kathleen Murray and High Winds Director Tom Welna said in an email.

The former clinic will be used as the music department headquarters during the renovations, and will likely be put to another use once the arts building is complete.

Concerts and performances will be distributed throughout community churches, and Macalester is looking to rent Ramsey Junior High’s music area for a rehearsal space.

The art department will be using a duplex on Princeton Avenue purchased last March as a gallery space, and will most likely move there after the end of the fall semester.

The music department may begin moving late this semester before classes conclude.

Welna and the High Winds Fund had to decide whether to rent or purchase buildings for the 18 projected months of construction. In the case of the HealthEast Clinic, a purchase was more economical, Welna said.

The High Winds Fund, founded in 1956, is Macalester’s community-based investment foundation. Its funds are separate from the college’s endowment and stand at just over $15 million, with 80 percent of that invested in real estate.

The profits it garners from investments go toward off-campus ventures, in order to “maintain and enhance the greater Macalester neighborhood,” Welna said.

Primary recipients of funds include local preschools, health clinics and other non-profit organizations. The Fund generally has eight to ten partners at any given time, and also owns the Breadsmith, Patagonia and Pad Thai buildings on Grand Avenue.

Welna said the Fund values the local community aspect.

“We can walk to everything we own,” he said.

Aside from the temporary buildings, the Fund is currently working on the construction of the Snelling Avenue median. The High Winds Fund contributed $425,000 to the project, an amount which constitutes one-third of the total budget.

Welna’s ultimate goal with the Fund is to make sure new construction isn’t just limited to the Macalester campus.

“We want to make sure Macalester exists well into the future in a great neighborhood,” he said.