Labor and civic leaders today broke ground on a new hub of operations for St. Paul’s unions. The ceremony took place a week after Catholic Charities assumed ownership of the old St. Paul Labor Centre, better known as “411 Main.”
The new labor center will stand at 345 West 7th Street, about one block south of United Hospital in downtown St. Paul. An ownership group that includes the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, the St. Paul Building and Construction Trades Council and several local unions purchased the property last month.
The groundbreaking kicks off construction on the property. Plans include a two-story office complex with 16,200 square feet of floor space, as well as 80 surface parking spaces.
St. Paul-based Viking Construction will oversee the project, and all work done on the site will be union.
The project’s timeline and budget remain in the works, Viking President David Roth said. “Hopefully, we can have a Christmas party here,” he said.
The sale means the end of the line for the old Labor Centre nearly 40 years after first opening its doors. Catholic Charities plans to demolish the building and expand its campus, which includes the Dorothy Day homeless shelter across the street.
Built in 1976 at a projected construction cost of $700,000 to $800,000, 411 Main replaced the St. Paul Labor Temple, which stood for 50-plus years at 418 Auditorium St. – a street that no longer exists – near Landmark Center. The St. Paul Companies (now Travelers) paid $125,000 to purchase the property from an ownership group led by the St. Paul Trades and Labor Assembly, the St. Paul RLF’s predecessor.
Several local unions, labor organizations, labor-endorsed political candidates and businesses housed their offices at 411 Main over the years, and the Labor Centre’s meeting hall hosted union meetings, rallies, parties and volunteer events.
The Labor Centre would buzz with activity in the months running up to an election, in particular, as campaigns operated their phone banks, door-knocks and other get-out-the-vote efforts out of the building.