Intermedia Arts slated to become an office with mural art

Competing offers came from nonprofits and housing developers.
Competing offers came from nonprofits and housing developers.

The “Wikipedia of affordable housing” is poised to buy the Intermedia Arts building this fall for its headquarters. But the murals will stay.

RightSource Compliance would use the building as a private office to house 40-60 employees. The company plans to work with Intermedia muralists to continue the building’s wall art that changes every few months. Another tentative idea would convert a smaller back-lot building into a coffeehouse.

RightSource offers technology and consulting services to help landlords across the country streamline the red tape associated with affordable housing.

“Today they spend almost half of their day in an office buried under paperwork,” said CEO Chris Voss. “…We demystify what affordable housing is, so they can treat affordable housing almost like market-rate property.”

The company taking over the Intermedia Arts property is tentatively considering a coffeehouse in the rear building that fronts Abbott Avenue.
The company taking over the Intermedia Arts property is tentatively considering a coffeehouse in the rear building that fronts Abbott Avenue.

Currently located in the Grain Exchange co-working space downtown, the company would renovate the Intermedia building with a “very light touch,” reusing the theater and other spaces for its Housing Academy classes.

The Intermedia Arts board selected the RightSource bid out of 16 competing offers for the building at 2822 Lyndale Ave. S. Some bids sought to take the building down to construct new housing, said Board Co-chair Omar Akbar. And some proposals came from nonprofit groups, he said. The board chose the RightSource offer based on its ability to pay down $1-2 million in debt, the timing of the purchase and the neighborhood impact.

“From what I heard, daytime traffic would be helpful,” Akbar said. “RightSource has 40-60 daytime workers who are eating and drinking in the neighborhood.”

Previously a busy LynLake hub for performance art, gallery space, and small business tenants, Intermedia accumulated significant debt in recent years, according to the board. The board laid off all staff last fall and listed the building for sale.

Media Active, the group’s media production program for youth, has been taken on by the St. Paul Neighborhood Network. Shá Cage is performing at Open Eye Figure Theater.

Intermedia Arts is still looking for a home for its Creative Community Leadership Institute, and the board hopes to spend proceeds from the sale as well.

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