There’s plenty to discover on the outside of the building at the Eastside Maintenance Facility, from Randy Walker’s “Collection Point” sculpture, to the gardens that handle rain runoff. It’s worth allowing some extra time to wander the perimeter on Saturday, Oct. 3, when bringing art supplies to donate to Edison High School’s art department and the ROHO Collective from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The building stretches between 26th and 27th Avenues NE along University Avenue.
The public will have to wait to get inside until the pandemic passes, but the Northeaster did get a tour. David Herberholz was one of my guides. He’s director of Solid Waste and Recycling, one of three city departments that will eventually use the building. The others are Streets and Fleet. To accommodate social distancing, only a portion of the eventual staff are working from the building.
No garbage or recyclable materials are kept or processed on site. It’s a place to keep trucks and cars out of the elements, and where they go to be repaired, washed, and otherwise maintained. It’ll eventually accommodate staff coming from 2710 Pacific St. on the North Side and 1809 Washington St. NE.
Garbage and recycling drivers get their orders in the morning in the south part of the first floor. At the north end will be a similar setup for the Streets people. There are conference rooms (named for North/Northeast neighborhoods) in various locations and a kitchen between, for use by both. The Holland room, as First Ward Council Member Kevin Reich explained, is one of the largest, as that neighborhood provided the bulk of the input in a long process working on the building design.
On the second floor at the north end are the Solid Waste and Recycling offices, a call center to handle about 300 customer inquiries per day, another kitchen, and at the south end, all-gender lockers and all-gender showers. General Foreman Nick Gerold commented that recent hiring has been particularly diverse.
The building hides a three-story parking ramp that holds 50 vehicles per floor. Newly purchased SUVs and other vehicles waiting for logos, communication devices and other adaptations for city use were lined up on the top floor when I visited.
And then there are the maintenance and repair bays, with lubricant hoses and cranes.
A heated area for parking keeps contents from freezing in transitional weather, for example the water in graffiti removal trucks. The department has purchased some equipment that looks like a leaf blower in reverse, for sucking up litter.
Indoor truck storage stretches to the south, 70,000 square feet ready to receive a huge array of community solar panels on top someday. Uncovered parking stretches behind the building all the way to its border with Acorn Mini-Storage.
An outbuilding houses vehicle washing. Fuel pumps sit under a canopy. Temporary barriers define a place for eventual covered salt storage in winter. In a mostly open shed with a mezzanine at the south end, trucks can pull in to pick up seasonal supplies or equipment.
Architect Matt Lysne from HCM Architects “was great to work with,” Reich and other tour guides remarked. “It was legitimate co-creation,” Reich said, through dozens of neighborhood meetings and some consultations with Intep on energy efficiency. Intep is in Northeast on 23rd Avenue.
Examples of energy efficiency and environmental conscience: The south-facing building envelope has black fins that absorb sun and help pre-heat intake air in the winter. There are ten electric vehicle charging stations and conduit under the parking lot for more. In addition to visible water management features, a huge underground tank will catch about half the site’s rainwater so it can gradually filter out. A separate water catch basin is filled with material that would contain a fuel spill in the fueling area. A bit more than $500,000 in water management was granted through Mississippi Watershed Management Organization.
About those visible features. Interpretive signs along the way let you read more about the water management when you take your socially-distanced walk or bike past the site. It is indeed hooked up to the 26th Avenue bike route and has wider-than-normal sidewalks along 27th for an eventual bike connection there. The “Collection Point” sculpture is a fitting entry point to the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District, the northern boundary of which is 26th Avenue NE.
Photos by Margo Ashmore