The operators of the Treasure Island Center in downtown St. Paul are welcoming the arrival of three new businesses in the city-funded redevelopment.

The Pillbox Tavern and Red's Savoy Pizza will open next month in the building that housed the former Dayton's/Macy's department stores. The St. Paul Event Center opened last week.

Graham Messenger, executive chef for the Pillbox Tavern, said he's looking forward to returning to the space where he used to come as child with his mother on shopping trips. He said it's part of bringing more after-dark energy to a part of town that used to be deserted after business hours.

"You would come here anytime of the night and it was just dead, dead, dead," Messenger said. "We see that changing and becoming more vibrant."

After Macy's exodus in 2013, the St. Paul Port Authority bought the boxy, brick building the next year for $3 million. The Port Authority then readied it for a facelift, infusing another $5.5 million to prep the building for redevelopment and remove or seal asbestos.

The property is managed by Go Wild LLC, a partnership between the Port Authority's nonprofit subsidiary, Capital City Properties, and Minneapolis-based developer Hempel Cos. Hempel has a 75% ownership stake in the building and Capital City Properties owns the rest.

The redevelopment replaced the yellow brick on the Wabasha Street facade with windows. A new mural on the southeast corner of the building depicts kids playing hockey and covers up more of the brick.

"It was kind of some fun 1960s architecture that just doesn't work for today's real estate market," said Andrea Novak, senior vice president of marketing for the Port Authority. Novak said the building is 85% occupied.

While the building looks quite different inside and out, parts pay tribute to its past. Though it doesn't open until next month, the new Red's Savoy location has artwork of the old Dayton's building already on the walls.

The new location is a return to downtown St. Paul for the chain that started there more than 50 years ago.

"We knew we were always going to come back," said Reed Daniels, Red's Savoy CEO and owner of the new location.

On the third level, Asad Gharwal is opening the St. Paul Event Center, a space that he said has windows, unlike many of its hotel-based competitors.

Two other tenants are already operating: Stacked Deck Brewing and Walgreens.

Treasure Island Resort and Casino, which signed a multiyear deal for naming rights in 2017, has space on the third level. Other undeveloped space on that level will eventually become an athletic training facility called D1 Training.

The Minnesota Wild has a training facility in the basement and holds practices on the rooftop rink. The Minnesota Whitecaps, the women's professional hockey team, and the men's and women's Hamline Pipers hockey teams also use the ice.

Dylan Anderson ( is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.