The Minnesota Opera is spiffing up the Lab Theater in downtown Minneapolis and giving it a new name: the Luminary Arts Center.

The North Loop venue, which is in the midst of a $6 million renovation, will open in September. At 224 seats, it will house not only some Minnesota Opera productions but be available for performers and troupes to rent.

"We put some good work into it to make it safer and more exciting artistically," Minnesota Opera President Ryan Taylor said. "I'm excited for everybody to see it and for us to be able to have it as a space for a relationship with the community at large."

Better known for its big productions in St. Paul's 1,900-seat Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, the Minneapolis-based nonprofit purchased the former warehouse space in February 2019 for $1.9 million, according to county property records.

The venue has been a performing arts destination since 1988, when the Guthrie Theater launched it as a secondary stage to develop new work. With the Guthrie's move in 2006 to a new three-stage riverfront complex, independent producer Mary Kelley Leer took over the space, filling the Lab with theater, dance and burlesque acts.

In the meantime, the North Loop has undergone rapid redevelopment. Concern that an important arts venue might become a parking garage prompted the opera to step in.

"Many groups used it and thought of it as their home," Taylor said, pointing to the recent sale of Aria, formerly home to Theatre de la Jeune Lune, as evidence of development pressure in the area. That events center, which hosted occasional performances, has now become a church.

The Minnesota Opera already owned three North Loop warehouses, renovated in 1990, that house its headquarters, rehearsal spaces, costume shop and storage. The new Luminary Arts Center will bring the opera's total Minneapolis campus to 62,500 square feet.

Pre-pandemic, the company had been staging smaller performances in the Lab — including its Project Opera youth training program — six to eight weeks a year, Taylor said. It'll be closer to 12 in the season that begins this fall.

Last year, the Opera started work on a $6 million renovation of the 8,000 square-foot building, adding a freight elevator and improving front-of-house facilities, among other things. New flooring will make the stage safer for dancers, and new acoustic treatments will make the space more flexible.

The nonprofit will offer the space at "rates we think are both fair and competitive," said Taylor, who has led the Opera since 2016. Nonprofits under a certain budget size will pay less than organizations with larger budgets.

Over many months, the nonprofit vetted some 60 potential names for the venue. "Luminary" was a late addition, Taylor said.

"I really loved the fact that it is a space of light and that light and creation tend to go hand-in-hand," he said.

"It gave me a spark of hope."

Staff writer Rohan Preston contributed to this report.