They have finally decided to go home.
Four hours and 15 minutes after the 6 p.m. start of the Wednesday evening council meeting, the city’s nine council members called it a night.
By then, most anyone in the audience had cleared out. The few from the local media were long gone. And several top city staffers, forced to stay until the end, headed home. They’re back at it now, running the city all over again.
Near the end of the night, Mayor Kay Halloran had left her chair for a short break, and was doing knee bends to loosen up the legs before returning to her seat.
Near 10 p.m., the topic had turned to Minneapolis developer Sherman Associates’ plan to spend $7.7 million to buy and renovate The Roosevelt, the former hotel turned apartment complex.
After renovation, about 85 percent of the 97 apartment units in the 12-story building will be classified as affordable, and much of the federal and state financial help for the project is coming because of the affordable housing component of the renovation.
As part of the financing, the city is being asked to make a $775,000 loan to Sherman Associates, the details of which are still being worked out.
At one point, council member Chuck Wieneke was enthusiastically voicing support for the loan, noting that the council had given ample local financial incentives to the WaterTower Place condominiums downtown and now the Bottleworks condominium project next door in what is the former Osada building, which had been affordable housing.
The council has steered money to the “upper end” in downtown housing, it’s time it did the same for affordable housing, Wieneke said.
Council member Brian Fagan, sounding a bit weary, said Wieneke’s comments sounded like a seconding of a motion to support the loan, and the matter went to successful vote.
The loan details will come back to the council in a couple weeks for a final vote on the matter.
It had been a long night, which had featured two, hour-plus-long public hearings and council debates on land-use changes, one for the proposed Tudor Rose condominium project on the west side and one for a proposed Walgreens drug store on the east side. Both projects were given the go ahead to proceed to zoning changes.
Few bodies were around, though, to hear about The Roosevelt or the four or five council items that followed.