High Winds Fund continued role in Mac-Groveland neighborhood

High Winds Fund continued role in Mac-Groveland neighborhood

Margaret Moran

This is the second part of our two-part series on the role of the High Winds Fund in Macalester’s present and past. To read part one, please click here.

According to President Brian Rosenberg, the High Winds fund maintains good relationships with several local community partners. High Winds currently makes donations to several local entities, including the Macalester-Groveland Community Council and Ramsey Junior High School.

“We don’t want to be [the University of] St. Thomas,” Rosenberg said. “St. Thomas is constantly at war with the neighborhood around it… Any time that St. Thomas wants to do something, they seem to get in a fight with the neighborhood. If we ever want to [build] something, it’s important for us to be on good terms with the neighborhood. Because if we have a good relationship with the neighbors and we later want to do something, it’s more likely that they’re going to be supportive.”

In January 2018, Macalester purchased the property at 1661 Grand Avenue, its first property acquisition since 2014. According to Vice President of Administration and Finance David Wheaton, this acquisition had been in the works for over two years.

“With this purchase, we now own all of the properties on the block bounded by Grand and Summit Avenues and Macalester and Cambridge Streets,” Wheaton said. “While we don’t have a specific plan for the parcel, we think that owing all of those properties gives us an opportunity to do something creative with the north side of Grand Avenue.”

“Had the parcel been purchased by someone else, we wouldn’t have had a voice in what is near our buildings for many years to come,” he said.

Macalester has no immediate plans to purchase more property in the area, primarily due to the lack of available space and funds.

“One that we didn’t try to buy was across from St. Clair and Snelling, where they knocked down that whole disgusting-looking strip mall and they’re putting up a building there – an apartment building,” Rosenberg said. “If someone else wants to buy it and develop it, fine, but it was just too far from us and wasn’t going to serve any real purpose for us, so we just left it alone.”

However, the High Winds Fund and committee members do have thoughts about who they’d like to rent to, if the opportunity arises.

“If I could put one new thing in, it would be a grocery store,” said Rosenberg. “There’s a chain called Fresh Thyme [Farmers Market] which is much smaller than Whole Foods and less expensive but kind of specializes in locally-sourced ingredients as much as they can and occupies a space that’s not gigantic.”

Some students consider narrowing the scope of the college to the Macalester-Groveland area detrimental to its reputation as an urban and diverse community.

“Sometimes [students] have jobs and internships in either downtown St. Paul or Minneapolis, but for the most part the community culture is here,” MCSG Community Engagement Officer Fatiya Kedir ’21 said.

“We are in such a cool metropolitan area, and people should just explore in general. We are compared a lot to Carleton, but they are in the middle of nowhere, and I think that [distinction] is where we get our brand.”

“[When deciding which college to attend], my [question] was more ‘cornfield versus city’ and I wanted a more urban population and place,” QuestBridge Liaison Amy Vandervelde ’21 said. “I think it helps that the bus passes are subsidized [by the college] so you can go somewhere very easily that’s not as gentrified as the Macalester-Groveland community is, but [it is] not great.”

Rosenberg says that High Winds and its mission to benefit to the community is in memory of DeWitt Wallace and his goals for Macalester.

“Having an organization like High Winds is pretty unusual for a college,” Rosenberg said. “There aren’t a lot of schools that have, in effect, a separate department or organization that is focused exclusively on the community around the college. And that really goes back to DeWitt Wallace, and the way he founded it, where he said, essentially, ‘This money cannot be spent within the campus, it has to be spent around the campus.’”