By Bruce Karnick
Last September, Pine Harbor Christian Academy (PCHA), 11125 W. Point Douglas Rd., Hastings, was in the process of expanding their classroom and administrative space. The new addition is a 70 x140foot building which is just shy of an extra 10,000 square feet. The addition is a permanent structure on the south end of the building. The acquisition of the build ing may have had a bit of divine intervention. The building is actually a set of prefabricated trailers, similar to mobile homes, but designed to be connected. Once installed on the foundation and connected, you cannot tell they are trailers. They are significantly less expensive than new construction, too. New construction for a school building is over $200 per square foot.
“This [addition] would be like over $2 million, so I started looking at alternatives. I was looking for one class of pods or something like that, and then I stumbled across this on the in ternet,” Principal Urban said during an interview.
The Anoka Hennepin School District had leased this mo bile school building to use while their addition was being built. It was just coming off lease and was scheduled to be returned to Indiana. Because PHCA purchased them outright, that saved the leasing company a lot of work, and expenses, so PHCA was able to get free delivery and a great deal less than half the price of building new. An added bonus was the time it takes to install these versus build. Work started midSep tember of 2021 and they had the space accessible during last school year. They have all the finishing touches on the space now, and recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony with repre sentatives from both Hastings and Cottage Grove in atten dance.
Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey welcomed everyone in attendance and gave a brief history on the expansion and the school and some of the work that went along the way.
“No matter what we’re doing in Cottage Grove, Cottage Grove is ‘positioned for growth.’ Growth can be a multitude of different ways. It can be recreation, it can be education, which is what we’re talking about here. It can be religious. It can be a business park. It can be housing. It can be a bunch of things. When they came before the city council and the plan ning commission to put together this plan down here, you know, sometimes you get these, these deals that come through, or people that have an idea. And sometimes those ideas don’t always make it to fruition, right. I was reading about where these particular school rooms back here behind us came from. Today, you will be seeing some amazing classrooms,” said Bailey.
Laurie Levine was also on hand to welcome PHCA into the Cottage Grove Chamber as a member then she welcomed Urban to speak. “I want to thank all the support from the Harbor Church and the families of Pine Harbor Christian Academy for all the prayers and the gifts and just helping us to get through this project. The Cottage Grove Chamber, thank you for introduc ing and coming out and doing this ribbon cutting. To the mayor, we appreciate your time,” said Urban.
Urban continued to thank the developers and contractors that worked on the project and spoke on the impact the expan sion will have on the school and community.
“We’ve been partnering with parents for 40 years,” added Urban. “We just find it’s a blessing to serve families and to be with families. This expansion project now allows us to reach more families, we started a second kindergarten classroom, because now we have the room, we were desperately needing more room. And who knows what the next phase will be here at Pine harbor. It’s really exciting.”
The groups went on to tour the new classrooms. The addi tion gives the school the capacity to serve 280 students, which doubles the previous capacity.
“This year, we’re starting two kindergartens,” explained Urban. “Next year will be two first grades and then year after that two second grades. We had 27 students added this year.”
The staff has been working diligently in the new space and they love it added Urban.
“We have a lot more room. We have a Makerspace in this in the new building. They could set up a lab or they could start a project and walk away from it. And there’s a checkout section and we’re really excited. There’s now a new lounge, more room to maneuver. And last week, they were getting their rooms ready, and you saw there, they’re beautiful,” he said.
The addition is not directly connected to the building which can make moving from the original school to the new school a challenge for the time being. They need to build a more per manent breezeway to cover the space from the elements. They will be fundraising for that this winter and hope to raise $120,000 for that project.
Urban ended the interview with this, “We have a great team. We added three staff people for the more students. We are excited. It’s been really fun. We’ve been together for the last week, doing new staff training and teacher training and the three new staff teaching staff are fitting so well,” he said.
To learn more about PHCA visit www. pineharbor.org