Lyndale shelter could become drug treatment facility

Tubman, Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge have purchase agreement

Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge is planning to convert a domestic violence shelter into a drug rehab and recovery center for women. Photo by Nate Gotlieb

A Lyndale domestic violence shelter will become a drug rehab and recovery center for women, pending completion of a purchase agreement between two local nonprofits.

Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge (MNATC), which operates treatment programs around the state, has agreed to purchase Harriet Tubman Center West, a shelter owned and operated by Tubman.

The two organizations are finalizing details of the agreement, Tubman CEO Jennifer Polzin said in a statement. She said they hope to close by the end of 2019 and transfer occupancy next summer.

MNATC, founded in the early 1980s, has six campuses in Minneapolis, including two women’s residential facilities, according to Tom Peterson of Station 19 Architects, which is working on the project. It operates both licensed programs and a 12-month program rooted in Christian dogma. 

Peterson said MNATC’s women’s programs are full. CEO Rich Scherber said the organization can’t keep up with requests for spots in its programs.

“We need more space,” he said in an interview after a Sept. 23 presentation to the Lyndale Neighborhood Association.

MNATC plans to have up to 78 beds in the new building, which Scherber said currently has 64 licensed shelter beds and 11 apartments with 30 bedrooms.

It also plans on offering outpatient services to up to 40 women who live at its Grace Manor resident facility in Northeast Minneapolis and up to 15 residents who live elsewhere.

The facility would have 60 parking spaces, including 18 from an adjacent property that MNATC owns and uses for staff housing. The organization plans on consolidating the two parking lots.

Scherber said MNATC has a curfew for its clients and does not allow personal vehicles on the site. The organization’s facilities are not open to the public, he said, and visitors are only allowed on weekends.

“All of the clients will be held to rigid rules and expectations,” he said.

He said that MNATC would know by the end of October whether the project was feasible and that the entire southwest wing of the building is under environmental study.

Scherber and Peterson pointed to a 2011 study by the Wilder Foundation as evidence of the program’s long-term success. The foundation found that 74% of patients surveyed reported abstaining from drugs and alcohol in the six months following graduation.

Tubman provides shelter, housing, legal services, mental and chemical health support, youth programs and more to Twin Cities families. It has two Minneapolis facilities and another in Maplewood.

The Lyndale facility has classes and support groups and a drop-in clothing closet, in addition to the shelter and transitional apartments.

Polzin wrote in her organization’s summer newsletter that Tubman plans on relocating all of its services to its Maplewood location and to its other Minneapolis location.

MNATC has submitted a land-use application to the city for the site, according to a city spokesperson, who said the application is currently being reviewed and will likely go before the Planning Commission in November.

Scherber said MNATC would allow Tubman clients to stay in the building rent-free until June.

The Lyndale Neighborhood Association on Sept. 23 approved a resolution in support of the project.