City looks for new community-minded owner of Arlington Hills Library

Arlington Hills Library, a Carnegie building, was constructed in 1916. (submitted photo)

The St. Paul Public Library has put out an open-ended request for proposals to find a new owner for Arlington Hills Library, a historic Carnegie building located at 1105 Greenbrier St. The library’s been in the Payne-Phalen community for nearly a century.

The public library will be relocating next spring to the new Payne-Maryland Project, a one-stop shop community center, which also will include recreation facilities.

Brian Tourtelotte, project manager for the Payne-Maryland project, said “construction is moving along nicely.”

The majority of the building is projected to be done in mid-January, with a soft opening projected for mid-April.

In the meantime, the city is looking to find a unique buyer for the charming old library to keep it oriented towards public use.

“Prospective buyers will want to enhance community vitality by engaging the community and serving as a multi-cultural and multi-generational resource for those living and working in the area,” the request states. “Possible re-uses of the building could include a coffee bar, museum, learning facility, clinic, community arts space, cultural center, or other viable business.”

The Beaux Arts style library was built in 1916 and is one of three Carnegie libraries in St. Paul. It is thought to be one of the oldest public buildings in the city, according to the RFP.

The request opened up on July 31, and proposals will be accepted up to Oct. 30. City staff working on the request declined to comment on the response the document has garnered from interested groups.

Leslie McMurray, director of the District Five Community Council, said the community’s been happy with the city’s efforts to make sure the building makes it into the right hands.

“(The district council) has heard loud and clear from the neighborhood what a valuable asset this Carnegie library is,” she said. “We’ll be pretty excited to see what projects come forward.”

She noted that neighbors have expressed interest in keeping the building a community asset, with functions like “learning, arts expression, history, bringing diverse communities together, celebrating cultures.”

The request for proposals asks interested parties to name a purchase price; lay out a business plan including company vision, qualifications, and past experience; describe the proposed plan to integrate with the community; and describe the plan to reflect the history of the area and “support/enhance cultural richness and diversity.”

The library has an estimated value of $365,000 according to the RFP.

Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at

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