The Jax Building, the former warehouse and artist studio space in St. Paul's Lowertown, has been sold for a little more than $4 million and will be converted into market-rate apartments.

New York-based VoR Development and Forterra Capital Partners jointly purchased the building, located downtown on the corner of 4th and Wacouta streets, as well as two adjacent parking lots. It has plans to gut the building and turn it into about 35 loft-style apartments with a retailer on the ground and basement floors, said VoR President Kyle Morque, early Thursday.

"It will be very Soho loft beautiful," Morque said.

The Jax Building has been a part of the Lowertown art scene for more than 35 years as one of the few non-residential options for artists to operate their studios. All of its tenants were out as of April 30. Last month, around 100 mourners held a wake for the building in Mears Park and decried the death of the artistic creativity some have felt has been disappearing from Lowertown as it has been an active site of redevelopment projects including luxury apartments in recent years.

The new units will mostly have two bedrooms making it possible for artists to have living and work space, Morque said. The retail tenant, which has yet to be announced, will appeal to the "artistic sense of the neighborhood," he said.

The 60,000-square-foot building features over 11-foot ceilings on each of its five floors. The original concrete ceilings and columns of the Jax, which was one of the first poured concrete buildings in St. Paul, will be left exposed, Morque said. An old birdcage elevator will be cleaned and locked in place on the first floor. Skylights will also be restored.

"We're trying to use as much of the building elements as possible," Morque said.

VoR plans to announce the retailer in the next three months. Renovations start immediately, and by the end of next summer, tenants are expected to be able to move in.


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