A shuttered auto repair shop cannot be torn down to make way for a new apartment building near Selby Avenue and Dale Street. The Saint Paul Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) voted 6-2 on October 19 to reject another request from the developers to demolish the one-story brick structure at 156 N. Dale St.

TJL Development and Chase Real Estate Group have the option of reworking their plans or appealing the decision to the City Council. This is the second time this year that the HPC has rejected a demolition request for the building. A similar request was unanimously voted down in March. HPC action is required because the building is in the Historic Hill District.

The building was erected in 1915 and modified in 1926 with the addition of a brick storefront. It served as an auto repair shop for many years, but has been vacant for about a decade. Various plans for its reuse, including a restaurant, have foundered.

The developers had a hair salon that was interested in leasing the space after it was renovated, but have since lost that potential tenant. They still want to build an apartment building at 594-600 Selby Ave., but with changes if the repair shop can be torn down.

The developers reworked their plans after the March HPC vote with the idea of reusing the former building. However, Jim LaValle of TJL Development said further studies have shown that it is in a deteriorated condition and that the cost of rehabilitating the structure could reach $1.6 million.

The developers had a hair salon that was interested in leasing the space after it was renovated, but have since lost that potential tenant. They still want to build an apartment building at 594-600 Selby Ave., but with changes if the repair shop can be torn down.

Now preliminary plans call for reducing the Selby portion of the building from five stories to four, and building a four-story addition facing Dale Street. The Dale Street portion of the building would be built right up to the sidewalk, similar to the mixed-use buildings at the corner. The ground-floor apartments would be walkout units.

On the Selby side, the underground garage access would be moved from Selby to the Selby-Hague alley. Several surface parking spots would be behind the building along the alley.

Final numbers for the revised plans are still being worked out. The plans approved earlier this year had 81 apartments in the building on Selby, with 110 parking spaces. The new plans call for 105-110 apartments with 70-80 parking spots.

—Jane McClure

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