Union Depot only looks empty

In the world of St. Paul business, this is an optical illusion. Union Depot only looks empty.

Christos Greek Restaurant folded last week after Ramsey County said it wanted a restaurant that has full catering operations and opens seven days a week.

But the Depot is at “nearly full occupancy,” Finance & Commerce reports, now that a coffee shop is opening in the Depot. The last one closed in 2009.

That full-service restaurant? That’s still a secret.

The Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority in April released a request for proposals for a new restaurant and caterer to take over the old Christos space. Officials received “several” responses by the May 5 deadline, Krueger said, though she declined to say how many.

The county staff will recommend a new anchor tenant by the end of June. A new anchor restaurant will likely be up and running near the end of the year or early 2017, Krueger said.

Once that happens, Union Depot will have one 2,000-square-foot suite left to rent. County officials hope to fill the space with retail or a business that offers a public use.

The suite was initially constructed with a slope because of grade elevation changes on the ground. The spaceis “on the one hand very cool and other hand very challenging,” Krueger said. “It’s going to take just the absolute right business … to make it work.”

Lowertown Bike Shop started operating at its new Union Depot location in Suite 160 in May.
The nonprofit had outgrown its previous space in the nearby Jax Building, which may soon be converted into market-rate apartments.

Things are hopping in Lowertown. The old Post Office building next door — an art deco gem — is being converted to a hotel and luxury apartments. It’s the latest old building in the neighborhood to get gussied up for bigger money tenants.