In October of 2018 AFMSP began an incremental move to our new home at 227 Colfax Ave N. After assessing our community's needs, we acquired this new building to scale our programs and services to meet the demand of our members, students, and program participants. The purchase was facilitated by a generous donation from Hubert Joly, who, supporting AFMSP's mission and recognizing its developing relationships with community partners, requested that the building be named 'The Joly Family Center for International Understanding'.
Property acquisition is complete, and renovations are underway, to ensure that our new home meets our communities' needs. In June 2019, AFMSP moved all its operations, events and classes to the Joly Center. AFMSP currently occupies the majority of the first floor, and the entire second floor of this building.
Modernized classrooms are equipped with the essential technology and resources to support students for years to come. A new children's wing will serve our growing Pre-K language classes and weekend youth education programs. These designated children's classrooms have height and age appropriate furnishings and SMARTBoards to enhance each child's learning experience in a welcoming environment.
In December 2020, we have finished our Grande Salle space, including the installation of our A/V system, which was generously funded by donors to our 2020 Virtual Gala Fund-A-Need. Additionally, construction to move our reception to a more central area is currently underway. The final phase of construction, to be completed by December 2021, will have three more adult classrooms, a teaching kitchen, and a café space. The Gallery, Library and lounges are already being shared with community partners to host board meetings and small events.
The building was originally built in 1934, but has been renovated and is in good condition (with the exception of the roof, which will likely soon need replacement). The finishes are of good quality and have historic character with hardwood floors, exposed brick walls, steel and concrete beams, interior and exterior grid windows, etc. This type of office space is often termed creative office space. The building is situated on a 0.69 acres site, which includes ample on-site parking and is situated on the western edge of Downtown Minneapolis in what is known as the West Market District. The West Market District takes its name from the area’s primary anchor businesses, the Farmer’s Market and International Market Square.
The neighborhood has experienced increasing redevelopment, with multiple projects also in progress or pending. This neighborhood has seen rapid growth throughout the early 20th century as the city expanded away from the shores of the Mississippi River. Initially home to manufacturers and distributors, in 1905, the nearby International Market Square building was built and stands a lasting icon. The neighborhood is also home to Theodore Wirth Park, established in 1938. During the manufacturing boom later that century, more warehouses were constructed, including our current home. Prior to AFMSP’s purchase and subsequent naming of the The Joly Family Center for International Understanding, our building has functioned as a _ in the mid-19th century, and as a multi-office building owned by Creatis, a local advertising agency, in the early 21st century.