City officials in St. Paul, MN, have shot down a proposal to convert a former brewery warehouse into a self-storage facility.

Storage operator Premier Storage sought to buy and renovate the former Schmidt Brewery building at 543 James Ave. to house 67,000 square feet of self-storage.

Earlier this year, Premier sold seven facilities in Minnesota to the Walnut Grove, CA-based Pegasus Group for more than $40 million. Premier held onto one facility in Minneapolis.

During a hearing before the St. Paul City Council, Premier principal Todd Jones failed to persuade council members that the facility would benefit the community, according to the Twin Cities Business Journal. The City Council unanimously upheld an appeal lodged by a community group.

Councilman David Thune said he thinks the self-storage facility offers neither excitement nor an opportunity for community involvement. “It’s just dead storage, literally,” Thune said.

Thune contrasted the self-storage concept with the successful conversion of another part of the brewery complex into residential lofts.

Bad for business?

The Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce condemned the council’s decision. Premier Storage is a member of the chamber.

The group issued a statement saying that the council’s decision could harm business growth in the city. Here is a portion of the statement:

Despite diligently following the city’s development review process, and obtaining approval for the self-storage facility by the planning commission, the city council, at the request of the Fort Road Federation (district 9 council), unanimously told Premier Storage “we’d prefer an empty building to economic success and community vitality.” We know every business heard this message loud and clear.

The building that Premier Storage wanted to buy has been vacant for five years. The chamber’s statement criticized the council for dismissing a multimillion-dollar investment that would have generated tax revenue for the city.

Alexander Harris