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Statement to the Parish Regarding Proposed Development of the Nye’s Site

Published: February 07 2015
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community has been a vital part of the original St. Anthony Village
and later this first neighborhood of Minneapolis since 1877. The historic church of which we are most
proud dates back even further, to the year 1857 when it was completed by the Universalist Society.
Twenty years later it was purchased by the French Canadian Catholic Community who sought their own
worship space. Their descendants worship here today, among parishioners and friends from all walks of
life, all ethnicities, and from every part of the Twin Cities. Our historic church is the oldest continually
used church in Minneapolis and our parish was the first in the United States to be named for the
Lourdes Apparition. In 1934, the Department of Interior recognized “the exceptional historic and
architectural importance” of our church, declaring it a national historic landmark. Our Lady of Lourdes is
indeed a “precious jewel” not only for our community, but also for our neighborhood and the city of
In the late 1960’s, city planners of Minneapolis as well as leaders of our parish urged Archdiocesan
leaders to allow Our Lady of Lourdes to remain open as the planned redevelopment of the
neighborhood had the church as its centerpiece. One can clearly see the wisdom of this planning in the
many unobstructed views of the historic church throughout the neighborhood. Parish and city leaders
were persuasive and today Our Lady of Lourdes is at the heart of a vibrant and growing neighborhood of
Minneapolis. Our Lady of Lourdes welcomes growth and development, yet we will strongly advocate for
the protection of this precious jewel when it is threatened. As we have an important duty to safeguard
this beautiful national landmark for our community and for generations to come, we strongly oppose
the current plans for the development of the Nye’s property, immediately adjacent to our historic
church. We do so for several reasons.
First, we have been advised by experts that a building project of the size and scope of the one proposed
for the Nye’s property will do harm to the structure of this historic landmark. Just the other day, strong
vibrations could be felt in the basement of the church as a result of soil borings conducted on the Nye’s
property. We have been informed that the question is not whether the church will be harmed by the
proposed construction, but how significant the harm will be. Second, a thirty story high rise will wall off
Lourdes from East Hennepin and will obstruct views of the historic church from various vantage points
throughout the neighborhood. Third, the current plans call for a 30-40 foot stone wall that will be
placed very close to the church’s northwest property line and will thus significantly affect the open and
welcoming entrance to the church from 2ndstreet. Fourth, given the proposed height of the
development there will be significant shadow cast on our property as well as wind tunnel effects that
will be felt by many in the neighborhood. Fifth, the structure proposed by the developer requires
significant variances. We will oppose these applications.
Finally, we understand that the recent neighborhood plan calls for density. The church welcomes growth
in the neighborhood, but realizes that density is not an absolute principle. Density as a value must be
balanced with several other factors in a common sense application of important considerations. For

example, pedestrian walking paths and the preservation of the historic character of the neighborhood
are also values of the recent neighborhood plan. Simply put, density is not right for every location and
most certainly not a location that jeopardizes the structure of our historic church and its prominent
place in the neighborhood.
An advisory committee has been formed to help guide the parish in order to preserve its important
interests. Members of this committee include our pastor, deacon, our trustees and other parishioners
with particular expertise related to development and construction. Please know that this committee will
continue to work hard to strongly advocate for our vibrant parish community and our historic
church. Please take the time to follow developments and be assured of regular updates from the
Advisory Committee. We welcome your support in a matter of such importance to Our Lady of Lourdes.
Do not hesitate to contact us as the office.
Our Lady of Lourdes Advisory Committee

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