Lake Street arts building to be sold

The Calhoun Building, home to many arts groups at 711 W. Lake St., is being sold by Minneapolis-based nonprofit Artspace Projects, Inc.

Artspace President Kelley Lindquist said the Lyn-Lake building wasn’t on the market, but Kenwood resident Robert Lamson approached the group with an offer. The sale was expected to be finalized Oct. 8.

Lamson was not available for comment, but Lindquist said the new owner had told Artspace that he doesn’t plan to replace the current residents or turn the buildings into condos.

"What’s really comforting is that [Lamson] is not only honoring the existing leases, we’ve added on some options in the last month that go to 2008. He’s told us he respects this building as a community asset, one his family can enjoy 20 years from now," Lindquist said.

The building is home to such groups as Pangea World Theater and SASE: The Write Place. Until last year, it housed pARTS Gallery. The CARAG neighborhood group is headquartered there.

Artspace purchased the building in 1996, originally to create artists’ lofts. However, tax credits to fund the conversion didn’t materialize, and Lindquist said expensive building repairs piled up. Lamson has pledged to fix a dilapidated elevator and faces roof, electrical and exterior repairs.

According to CARAG staffer Scott Engel, Lamson has owned apartment buildings in the neighborhood (which is bordered by Lyndale and Hennepin avenues and Lake and 36th streets) that have not been problem properties. Engel said The Calhoun Building tenants were upset because the sale came without warning but hope Lamson tells them personally that he’s committed to preserving the building’s arts focus.

The sale price was not disclosed, but Lindquist said Artspace will pay off a $670,000 city of Minneapolis loan and set up a fund, perhaps to build an artist live-work space elsewhere in the city. Lindquist said no sale proceeds would go to the Shubert Theater in downtown, which Artspace is trying to renovate.