A business deal has converted a former theater stage into a church altar.
The historic Minneapolis Warehouse District building that formerly housed the Tony-winning Theatre de la Jeune Lune has been sold for $10 million to River Valley Church.
Known as Aria, the 77,000-square-foot structure hosted a slew of events, including fashion shows, concerts and weddings, over the years.
"I'm very proud of what we accomplished with Aria over the last 11 years, starting with David Byrne playing the building and the various events we hosted there from the Super Bowl to the NCAA Final Four, to Prince coming there several times," said founder and former owner Peter Remes, a developer of vintage and historic buildings. "Aria was a beacon and a creative spark in Minnesota."
Remes, a former Jeune Lune board member, bought the building out of foreclosure in 2010 through his company, 100-105 1st Avenue North. He paid $855,000.
River Valley is an Apple Valley-based congregation that has nearly 10,000 members and nine locations in the Twin Cities, with another planned for Maple Grove this spring. The church first held its services in Minneapolis in a bar, the Pourhouse, before renting the former Jeune Lune space three years ago, according to Darren Lee, executive pastor of experience.
"Having a church in a bar was a fitting complement to the energy and character of their newest campus expansion," he said in an e-mailed statement.
River Valley held its first worship service as owners of the building on Feb. 13. Known for its Christian rock bands and video sermons, the church is a member of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God.
Over the past decade, it has often ranked as one of the fastest growing and largest churches in the country.
"Pastor Rob Ketterling and the River Valley Church leadership team are committed to investing in this community and creating a dynamic church environment," Lee said.
Jeune Lune, founded in Paris in 1978 by Dominique Serrand, Barbra Berlovitz and Vincent Gracieux, staged absorbing works. The company was itinerant until it moved into its warehouse home in 1992. Jeune Lune won a regional Tony Award for excellence in 2005 but went belly up in 2008.
That it will now be a church is "ironic," said Berlovitz, noting that theater evolved out of religious practice.
"It's one of the unique spaces in the United States, and it's sad that it won't be part of the artistic community anymore," Berlovitz said.
Staff writer Erica Pearson contributed to this report.