It looks as if the former Walker Library in Uptown is on its way to becoming a restaurant. Again.
According to plans filed with the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission, the 105-year-old neoclassical building – located at 2901 Hennepin Av. S. and last used as a library in 1981 – is being retrofitted from its last use as a yoga studio and gym into a 5,500 square foot restaurant.
Owner Ned Abdul has asked the city for permission to build a deck that would wrap around the building’s southern (side) and eastern (rear) facades, along with a few smaller alterations. The deck would be on the same level as the building’s main floor, which is seven feet off the ground.
The building’s most recognizable façade faces west, to Hennepin Avenue.
The proposal doesn’t include details on the restaurant itself, only the structure.
The building (shown above in a 1979 Star Tribune file photo) was named for the donor of the land beneath it -- Thomas Barlow Walker, the lumber baron and founder of the Walker Art Center -- and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. It was decommissioned as a library after a new facility was built across Hennepin Avenue. That replacement lasted for just over three decades before being replaced in 2014 by the current Walker Library.
The building has stood empty for several years. Past incarnations have included a secondhand clothing store, offices, a spa and, in the 1980s and 1990s, several restaurants. Diners with long memories may recall Brian’s Seafood Casa, the Library Cafe and, before that, the Old Library Cafe.
Abdul's Swervo Development is currently renovating the historic Minneapolis Armory into an events center (that project recently hit a speed bump with city officials) and recently sold three historic downtown Minneapolis properties (510 Marquette, 300 1st Av. N. and 123 N. 3rd St.) for $87.5 million.