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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

St. Paul’s Athletic Club will be closed, site to be converted into hotel and venue

John and Stephanie Rupp are closing the St. Paul’s Athletic Club on Cedar Street, a 13-story hotel, gym and office building with rooms to turn it into a multi-level wedding and event hotel venue. In the first step. The decision leaves the city without a traditional member-based gym option, although structured classes and obstacle course-style athletic offerings have opened at the Treasure Island Center on Wabasha Street.

The Rups, who have owned the building through their property group Commonwealth Companies for nearly 25 years, posted a notice on the “SPAC” website on Thursday that they have done all they can to keep the club viable a century after its grand debut. The roads have ended. The gym, spread over 60,000 square feet over five floors, has remained closed during the pandemic, except for personal trainer classes.

He wrote, “After nearly 30 years of exploring every possible option and crunching every single number more times than we can count, we have come to the inevitable conclusion that it is time to reopen the St. Paul Athletic Club.” won’t work for.” “We wanted some sort of club to be put there to pay homage to the building’s roots, but this phase – of the building and our city – just doesn’t allow that.”

The club opened in 1917

The athletic club, which opened with the building in 1917 and has a swimming pool, was operated for a period by Life Time Fitness. It closed for a few years before reopening under Roop’s management about seven years ago. In 2019, John Rupp introduced the possibility of converting at least part of the club into a non-profit community center, a concept that never got a foothold.

Stephanie Laitala Rupp, President, and John Rupp, CEO, at St. Paul Athletic Club on January 9, 2013. (John Doman / Pioneer Press)

In the early months of the pandemic, the hotel housed at least 34 homeless individuals at a time – mostly single mothers and their children – through a contract with Ramsey County and Interfaith Action’s Project Home. The Project Home by St. Catherine’s University has been relocated to the property, and the Union Gospel Mission has moved homeless women and young children over two floors.

The hotel itself remains closed otherwise, although the ballroom has reopened for weddings and celebrations.

“It is a unique place of its kind,” Roop said in an interview on Thursday. “It was one of the finest city social clubs built in the early part of the last century, and the ballroom is spectacular.”

Another tenant, the College of St. Scholastica, left town shortly before the pandemic.

Rupps said in his online notice that the 340 Cedars will soon include “four of the most spectacular event venues in the entire state” and its own event hotel – a “campus without equals” that will serve as the “for generations” of the city. Will be a part Come.”

However, the building also remains for sale. Nine-page sales brochure produced by SVN NorthCo. Real Estate Services notes that the brick and concrete structure actually consists of two buildings, including an athletic annex to the north built in 1980, which together span 226,810 square feet. According to Ramsey County property records, it has an estimated market value of $4.8 million, down from a recent high of $9 million.

D1 Athletic, Win Ninja Gym Open; YMCA closed

The permanent closure of St Paul’s Athletic Club follows the downtown YMCA, which was closed by the governor’s emergency orders during the early days of the pandemic and announced in July 2020 that it would not reopen at the former Gaultier Plaza. This also marked the end of an era. The original downtown St. Paul YMCA – the first in the state – opened in 1856.

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Plans for a smaller, two-level YMCA in the Osborne 370 building at 5th and Cedar Street have yet to receive legislative backing and little progress has been made towards a $20 million price-tag. That site was intended to focus on health programs such as yoga and acupuncture, as well as family services.

Chris Nelson, owner of the new D1 training facility at Treasure Island Center’s Skyway, said his gym offers structured classes for all ages with a membership base ranging in age from 6 to 72, but that it also offers open gym time for its own sake. does not do. Guided workouts such as weightlifting or a treadmill. An adjacent facility, Conker Ninja Gym, features an obstacle course-style layout.

Despite the variety of formats, will the closure of St Paul’s Athletic Club increase interest in D1 training? “I sure have hope,” Nelson said Thursday. “It leaves a big void in the city of St. Paul.”

history of high and low

The ups and downs of the storied St. Paul Athletic Club have spanned experiences of extraordinary beginnings and almost demolition.

Constructed in downtown’s boom years, the building was designed by Allen Stem in the elegant English Renaissance style by architectural firm Reed & Stem, a single one behind New York City’s Grand Central Station, the St. Paul Hotel, and the University Club of St. Paul. was the architect. Paul. In its beginnings, it had a bowling alley, barbershop, billiard room, sleeping rooms, squash court and a sun deck.

It fell into bankruptcy in 1989, but was saved from demolition when Wallace Orfield Sr. purchased an option on the structure an hour before its structural elements – including its English oak paneling, stone banners and marble columns – were put up for auction. was to be kept. Orfield later backed his bid, and the building remained vacant for five years before John Rupp bought it, renovated it, and secured a life time as a tenant.

“I knew Orfield at the time, and it came very close to demolition,” Roop said. “There was no heat for years, and there was one and a half feet of snow inside the lobby. By the time I took over and put Humpty Dumpty together again, it was in terrible shape. ,

History will repeat itself after 20 years.

Rupp put many of its downtown buildings under bankruptcy protection in 2012, kicking off a scheduled sheriff’s sale within hours. Court filings at the time showed that properties, including 340 Cedars, had been threatened with foreclosure for more than a year and that Roop had not made a mortgage payment on the Cedar Street building since August 2010, the same month in the Life Time Fitness lease dispute. After that closed your facility.

Rupp was able to hang on to the properties and reopen the gym, but the pandemic forced the gym to close again.

“We do our best to revitalize properties – to bring them to their next stage,” Rups wrote in his online notice. “The reality is that we must accept that over time, the objectives of these places will need to be constantly evolving.”

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