Keeping our local, historic icons intact

The plan for the Lake Street Sears building is a good example of creative urban developing.

It is important to recognize the importance of restoring old buildings with historic significance.

Recently, a bankruptcy action with purposes to sell the old Schmidt brewery in St. Paul ended without a sale. Though the only bid was considered too low, at least the bidder’s intentions were good, with hopes of building housing and retail spaces on the property. The last thing neighborhood residents want is a bidder with intentions of further ethanol operations. The low bid should be considered for the sake of its purposes.

The building’s current owner, Gopher State Ethanol, said the only bid of $4 million was too low, because it was expecting $6 million to $8 million. The bidder, Sherman Associates, is backed by St. Paul to restore the building by incorporating housing and retail spaces. The historic space is the last brewery to be transformed or restored in St. Paul.

The act of Gopher State Ethanol dismissing the bid is an example of a purely tactless corporate mind. The owners don’t seem to care much about the neighborhood’s wants or the historic value of the building they own. The only possible prospective bidder that could come up with the kind of cash Gopher State Ethanol expects is a like-minded corporation.

St. Paul chose and backed its bid and with nothing to show. A bid that wasn’t even considered might have been the only chance the old Schmidt brewery had to be preserved. Gopher State Ethanol should strongly reconsider the asking price of the building, considering the positive value if restored and preserved. It would add to St. Paul.

One example of a project of this type is the plan for the Sears building on Lake Street. The complex is to be remodeled into rental units for artists and seniors, an international marketplace, a Sheraton and a hardware store.

Restoring old buildings is nothing uncommon, but selling to buyers with the right purposes seems to be a trick for some. Maybe Gopher State Ethanol doesn’t realize what value the old Schmidt brewery holds, but the neighbors will surely tell it. The value of old buildings must be held to a higher regard than just a sale.