Friday, November 23, 2007

Rochester Lourdes announces site for new school

Lourdes High School's
new building will sit on donated land just east of the Rochester Athletic Club, Diocese of Winona Bishop Bernard Harrington announced Monday morning before blessing the parcel with holy water.

The private Catholic school will be on a 23.5-acre parcel at the southwest corner of 19th Street Northwest and Valleyhigh Drive. Catholic school officials think moving there is "the ideal and best situation," Harrington said.

The land, which the county values at nearly $1.6 million, was donated by Jack and Mary Ann Remick of Rochester. Currently, Lourdes sits on 4 acres near downtown, serving 504 students in the main building, which was built in 1941.

Opening the new building for the 2011-2012 school year is "a reasonable timeline," said Paul Tieskoetter, co-chairman of Rochester Catholic Schools' board of trustees. The school could open a year earlier if a planned $15 million capital campaign quickly meets its goals, he said.

The school will be built in phases. Rough estimates put the cost of the first phase, which would include basic classroom space, at $25 million to $30 million. The entire project was estimated at $54 million if it were completed in 2010, so the final total will be different, said Dennis Nigon, president of Rochester Catholic Schools.

A final design hasn't been completed, but a focus group presentation last year included a vision for a 203,261-square-foot complex with three gymnasiums and an 800-seat auditorium that Nigon said could be used by the community. The Lourdes auditorium now holds around 175 people.

Athletic fields are also part of the plans, but it's not clear when they would be developed.

The new Lourdes building could hold 625 students, according to the last year's focus group presentation with possible expansion space to 750 students. School officials expect gradual and steady enrollment increases after 2010, however, based in part on local population Rochester Post Bulletin

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