Investors looking to bring pre-paid cell phone store to Payne

Pending city approvals, Swan Leasing is poised to bring in an AT&T pre-paid phone store on Payne Avenue. The store would go in part of the space that used to be Furniture Minnesota at 871 Payne Ave.

The building owner is currently waiting to hear about a parking variance -- the building would be changed from a warehouse space into a retail space, and would thus need nine parking spaces. The company is requesting to be allowed to forego having parking spaces.

The variance will be heard by the St. Paul Board of Zoning Appeals at a public hearing on Monday, April 28, at 3 p.m. in room 330 of City Hall.

The company bought the building in May 2013, and has been seeking tenants since it was purchased, said Steve Rorem, the real estate agent who owns and manages the property.

If the parking variance goes through, the next step would be to start fixing the place up, making the bathroom handicap-accessible and adding interior walls.

The company intends to have another tenant occupy the other half of the building.

Anne DeJoy, director of commercial development at the East Side Neighborhood Development Company, said the previous tenant, Minnesota Furniture, was a strong business that fell on hard times during the Great Recession. She called the business’ failure “another consequence of what happened with the real estate market.”

Although “it seems odd that they’d be almost right next to (another cell phone store),” she said ESNDC would “like to see them become successful.”

Swan Leasing is also the property-management company of the other former Furniture Minnesota building, just up the street at 967 Payne. Rorem said the company is still fixing up and leasing that space.

-- Patrick Larkin


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