Just east of the intersection of Jackson Street and Arlington Avenue, state officials once envisioned the former Bix production building as a kind of back-up morgue – a holding facility for 5,000 bodies of victims of the COVID pandemic. Neighbors raised concerns about ghosts and evil spirits, and city leaders voiced their objections.
In any event, the planned use never materialised, and the St. Paul Port Authority now wants the building back for future development.
The state bought the refrigerated warehouse at 1415 L’Orient St. and five acres from the Port Authority last year for about $5.48 million. Paul and Ramsey County officials opposed the idea of storing bodies there, with the state using the site instead for storage of personal protective equipment. On Tuesday, the Port Authority’s board will meet to vote on whether to buy the site – which now sits vacant – from the state for $5.65 million back, the current appraised value of the property and the purchase amount required under state statute. .
The goal, according to board documents, is to flip the former Bix building as quickly as possible, with the Port Authority looking to secure a letter of intent from a qualified buyer before the end of November. The port authority will then finalize the purchase with the state, which will conclude on or around December 1.
The last two major transactions within the Port Authority’s business centers resulted in private storage facilities, creating little employment. On the other hand, a production company can employ 75 to 100 workers, said port authority officials.
“The idea is to find a buyer who will bring jobs to the city of St. Paul,” said Andrea Nowak, marketing manager for the Port Authority. “There is no specific buyer in Wings. We will be marketing it aggressively.”