The year 2020 was busy for Brainerd when it comes to remodeling and building projects, with both the school and the city in the midst of large construction projects.

City of Brainerd

In June 2019, the Brainerd City Council agreed to move ahead with renovations to its historic city hall. According to the 2017 study, issues of city hall included a failing heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC system, and space issues in both the main part and the annex portion of the building. There also were configuration issues in the police and fire stations and the separation of city departments among multiple buildings throughout Brainerd.

By July of this year, the interior of Brainerd City Hall was nearly complete after offices were remodeled and a new HVAC system was installed. The city also worked on the exterior of the century old building, which includes fixing the front entrance steps. The staircase had several issues including unevenness, a slippery texture and overall aesthetics. The city retained the staircase’s historic granite look.

City hall went to LED lights, got new windows, a new security system and replaced the roof. There was a setback May 18 when a fire ignited during the lunch hour while contractors were working on the roof. Black smoke and flames billowed from the roof at city hall, as firefighters battled not only the fire but the 36 mph wind gusts.

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The fire caused minor water damage on the second and third floor of city hall and light smoke damage throughout the building.

The remodeling project of the police station off East River Road includes:

  • Constructing a secure, enclosed vestibule entrance and a new intercom.

  • A secure waiting room near newly designed interview rooms, which will allow for those coming in to give statements to be out of the public eye.

  • Relocation of the server room to a space with its own HVAC system.

  • Reconfigured investigator rooms so investigators can have spaces separate from their colleagues while working on cases.

The city’s multi-facility remodel project is getting rid of the parks and recreation building in Lum Park and relocating staff. Administrative parks staff will move into the newly remodeled city hall, while maintenance workers will be housed in the street department maintenance garage on Thiesse Road.

Brainerd Public Schools

Construction has been in full swing ever since the 2018 passing of a $205 million referendum for the school district. Contractors finished working on the remodels at Nisswa and Harrison elementary schools and finished building the new Baxter Elementary School.

Updates to the Brainerd High School continue, including the performing arts center taking shape. Work also continues on reconfiguring the building to house all students under one roof and an eight-lane competition swimming pool.

North campus construction is slated to be completed in the fall of 2021.

Work began this year at Garfield, Lowell and Riverside elementary schools and the groundbreaking for the Early Childhood Family Education center occurred in late September. A new name also was chosen for the center — the Warrior Early Learning Center in Baxter.

Brainerd School Board members approved designs for the south campus at Brainerd High School Sept. 28. Construction is set to start in the spring of 2021 and wrap up by fall 2022.

South campus will be transformed into space for special education and transitional programming, while ongoing construction on the north campus will allow for all traditional high school students to be housed there.

JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at or 218-855-5851. Follow me at on Twitter.