Perspectives Family Center wins $600,000 in state bonding bill

An artist’s rendering depicts a concept for an expanded Perspectives Family Center in St. Louis Park. (Submitted art) A map indicates the layout of a remodeled and expanded Perspectives Family Center. (Submitted map)
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An artist’s rendering depicts a concept for an expanded Perspectives Family Center in St. Louis Park. (Submitted art)

A planned expansion of the Perspectives Family Center in St. Louis Park gained a boost when a state bonding bill provided $600,000.

The amount is less than the $3.5 million sought in last year’s failed state bonding bill, but meets the nonprofit’s 2017 request.

“It was made pretty clear there wasn’t going to be that much money available for them, so Perspectives narrowed it down to the planning money,” said Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park), who introduced a bill supporting the request in the Minnesota Senate.

The cash appropriation will cover pre-design and design money for the project, said Linda Domholt, vice president of development and marketing for Perspectives.

The nonprofit will work with St. Louis Park-based Anderson Cos. as the construction and development partner and Ray Mazorol of Eden Prairie-based L&M Associates on the architectural plan. Mazorol has worked with Perspectives in the past on a redesign of its Kids Cafe space and a Kids Connection rotunda at its existing building at 3381 Gorham Ave.

Perspectives will likely seek $3.4 million from the state in 2018 to cover the construction of the expanded family center, Domholt said. She noted construction costs have increased since the nonprofit’s original request.

The nonprofit also plans to begin a $12 million “Seed the Change” capital campaign in the late summer or early fall. The campaign would include a goal of raising $8 million for the bricks and mortar and redesign of the current building, $2 million for debt reduction and $2 million for new and expanded programming. Perspectives plans to launch Day One, which Domholt described as a “multicultural, trans-disciplinary, early childhood education program for at-risk children 16 months to preschool,” and Jump Start, an employment program that would assist mothers who live in the nonprofit’s supportive housing.

Separate from the campaign, Perspectives had raised $1.2 million before the state bonding bill passed. The nonprofit’s goal is to raise $3.8 million by the end of 2017 in addition to the state money.

Perspectives would remodel its existing 22,000-square-foot family center and add an additional 9,000 square feet of space.

The existing building was built in the 1950s and is inefficient, has poor windows and lacks handicapped accessibility and security measures, Domholt said.

“It’s cramped,” she said. “We’ve completely outgrown it.”

The new space would be designed with mothers and children in mind.

“It will be designed for a family that’s experienced a lifetime of trauma,” Domholt said.

The expansion would feature open spaces and would be culturally sensitive and kid-friendly, with handicapped accessibility and therapeutic healing in a safe building with good security, she said.

“It’s going to be a space that acknowledges a family’s past and dramatically impacts their ability to see a better future,” Domholt said. “It’s a place that’s going to exude peace and serenity.”

Perspectives acquired space across the street last year to provide a parking lot to serve the family center.

“We’ve begun to take a corner that, to be honest, isn’t the prettiest corner in St. Louis Park, and we’ve gotten rid of an old building and built a beautiful parking lot with landscaping and a retaining wall,” Domholt said. “With this building, we’re going to be adding additional green space and really making a beautiful corner for St. Louis Park.”

Perspectives has a goal of obtaining all money for the building by the end of 2018 and beginning construction in spring 2019.

Domholt thanked Latz, Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL-Hopkins), Rep. Peggy Flanagan (DFL-St. Louis Park, Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake) and Senate Capital Investment Committee Chair Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester) for helping guide the request into this year’s bonding bill.

“I just want to thank the legislators on both sides of the aisle that saw the importance that Perspectives plays in the lives of families in our community,” Domholt said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”

Latz said a number of legislators had toured Perspectives in the past while deliberating about which projects merited support.

“Perspectives makes a good case,” Latz said. “They got to see it firsthand.”

The funding had been included in a bonding bill last year, but that bill failed to win approval amid legislative disputes over issues like light rail funding. As a result, legislators voted on a new bonding bill this year.

Perspectives seeks to break cycles for families and children to allow for total family recovery, Domholt said. The building design is a tool in that effort, she added.

“We’re going to rebuild what addiction, homelessness and mental illness take away from mothers and their children,” Domholt said.

Of the nonprofit’s work, Latz said, “They are doing a great job in helping at-risk families, particularly single mothers coming off of drug addictions and homelessness and getting their feet back on the ground.”

Perspectives provides them with housing, support services, social services for children and help for mothers seeking jobs once their lives have stabilized, Latz said. The program has a high success rate in helping participants return to a productive life and stay out of homeless shelters while not committing new offenses, the senator said.

“A lot of the mothers are coming out of abusive relationships,” Latz said. “Perspectives provides a safe and stable place for them to get their lives back on track and get their kids’ lives back on track. That kind of model has been shown nationally to be successful, and Perspectives is showing us how to do it.”

Domholt said anyone who is interested in learning more about the project may contact her at 952-405-2529 or [email protected] The nonprofit’s website is perspectives-family.org.

Contact Seth Rowe at [email protected]