The University of Minnesota will lease its presidential mansion to the state as a temporary home for Gov. Tim Walz and his family after U regents approved the deal in a meeting Monday afternoon.
The U and state officials began discussing the potential rental after university President Joan Gabel announced earlier this month that she would be leaving to take another job and moving out of the mansion.
The state was seeking a temporary home for the Walz family while the governor's mansion undergoes long-planned renovations and had secured a lease on a home in Sunfish Lake. But the roughly $330,000 price tag associated with that lease drew criticism.
The state signed the lease last month that would allow the Walz family to lease the Dakota County home from former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Michael McFadden. To break that lease, the state must pay three months' rent, or nearly $52,000.
The U intends to charge the state $66,000 in rent for the Eastcliff lease that runs through September 2024. The state also would cover the costs of utilities, snow removal, lawn care, custodial work and security. The agreement includes a clause that would allow the state to renew the deal for up to an additional three months.
"The U is partnering with the state in order for it to recover its costs and also support the opportunity for the state to save money," Myron Frans, the U's senior vice president for finance and operations, told regents in a meeting Monday afternoon.
He said the arrangement will allow the U to foster a positive relationship with state officials.
The 18-month lease of Eastcliff will provide U officials with more time to decide what they want to do with that property, a historic mansion overlooking the Mississippi River in St. Paul that was donated to the university decades ago. The university was considering selling the mansion, which has served as a home for eight U presidents, or seeking millions in private funding to cover its costs.
The U will begin leasing Eastcliff to the state on July 1 and the deal will run through Sept. 30, 2024, "unless the parties mutually agree to different dates," according to materials presented to U regents.
Minnesota governors typically live in a historic mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, but that residence is slated to undergo nearly $6.3 million in renovations aimed at upgrading its mechanical, electrical, security and other systems.
Frans told regents he believes this will be the first time a governor and first lady have lived at Eastcliff.
"We can ensure that this historic property continues to serve a public purpose," he said.