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Minnesota Historical Society bids $4.5M for archdiocese building

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The Hayden Center overlooks downtown St. Paul.
The Hayden Center, 328 W. Kellogg Blvd., looks over the Xcel Center in downtown St. Paul.
Regina McCombs | MPR News file

The Minnesota Historical Society has made an offer to buy the Hayden Center in St. Paul from the bankrupt Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, according to documents filed in United States Bankruptcy Court on Wednesday.  

The court documents show that the Historical Society has agreed to purchase the property at Kellogg Boulevard West for $4.5 million. An assessment of the property in the summer of 2013 by the real estate company handling the sale for the archdiocese put the property's value at between $5 million and $7 million, according to the court filing by the attorney for the archdiocese.

  "The Archdiocese believes that the sale of the Hayden Center will allow the Archdiocese to operate more efficiently by having all of its staff in one location," according to court documents filed Wednesday. "The sale of the Hayden Center will also save the Archdiocese money in operating costs, daily maintenance and long-term maintenance."

  The sale is subject to a higher offer from another party during an auction. The archdiocese asked the court to schedule a hearing to consider final approval during the week of Jan. 4. In a statement, the archdiocese said that it expected the property closing to occur between late January and late February.

  The three-story building includes 129 parking spaces. The building was constructed in 1914 and used as the school for the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Since the school closed in 1975, court documents say, it's been used by the archdiocese for business offices.

  The Historical Society would use the property for parking for people visiting the Minnesota History Center and James J. Hill House. The building itself would be used for offices, meetings and storage.

  "We see the purchase of this property as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Historical Society director Steve Elliott said in a statement. "The unique location next to the history center and near the James J. Hill House will help us address parking, space and storage issues."

  The deal includes a 12-month lease for the archdiocese to continue using the building, with a monthly base rent of $17,000, according to the court documents.  

  The archdiocese announced that it would declare bankruptcy earlier this year, with officials saying that property owned by the archdiocese could be sold to pay off creditors.