Jun 17, 2021 - News
James J. Hill Reference Library buyer has a creative touch
The James J. Hill Reference Library in St. Paul.
The James J. Hill Reference Library will be renovated. Photo: Google Street

The historic James J. Hill Reference Library in downtown St. Paul has been purchased by a developer who's planning to renovate the building.

Driving the news: The library board of directors' sale to Peter Remes, who owns the development firm First & First, closed Tuesday.

  • The board has been trying to sell its half of the century-old building since 2019, due to financial losses.

Why it matters: Remes is a creative real estate developer whose past projects have been major hits.

  • He redeveloped St. Paul's Vandalia Tower, a complex that is now home to Lake Monster Brewing.
  • Remes took an ice warehouse on Nicollet Avenue and turned it into a rock climbing gym and The Icehouse restaurant/music venue.
  • He turned an old warehouse in the North Loop into the Aria event center, a popular wedding and corporate event venue.

The details: Remes said he may pursue historic tax credits for the St. Paul renovation and he wants "to be completely respectful to the grandeur and the architecture of the Hill Library."

  • The building will be used primarily as an event center, with a focus on arts and culture, he said. It'll also host wedding and corporate events.

Of note: Only the Hill Library part of the building was sold. The other side of the building will remain the George Latimer Central Library.

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