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Boutique hotel OKed for St. Paul's Summit Avenue

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A vacant mansion on St. Paul's Summit Avenue will become a boutique hotel, after the St. Paul City Council gave final approval to the developer's plans Wednesday, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

The 98-year-old mansion at 344 Summit Ave. is the former home of the College of Visual Arts, which closed a year ago after operating out of that location for 50 years. Developer John Rupp plans to convert the three-story, 18,000-square-foot building into a 10-room luxury boutique hotel.

Since the property is zoned residential, Rupp needed a conditional use permit to allow the project to move forward. The city's planning commission approved the permit, but a neighborhood group appealed that decision to the City Council, according to the Pioneer Press.

The council denied the appeal Wednesday on a 5-2 vote. Council Members Dan Bostrom and Kathy Lantry voted against the plan.

The group, the Summit Avenue Residential Preservation Association, opposes any commercial development on Summit Avenue, saying it could destroy the historic residential quality of the neighborhood.

"Were the city to allow this use, there would not be a principled way to say “No” to other commercial development, such as a high-end boutique shopping center or a luxury steakhouse. Summit Avenue stands as the nation’s longest, intact, Victorian residential street, and it is too valuable a part of our history to lose."

Rupp has assured neighbors that the hotel will bring little to no additional on-street parking, and will not host large events like weddings that could disrupt the neighborhood, according to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal.

Rupp owns the St. Paul development company Commonwealth Properties. According to the Business Journal, he purchased the mansion in December for $820,000.

He said the building won't require much in the way of structural changes, except for the addition of three bathrooms. The rooms would range in size from 600 to 2,000 square feet, and room rates would range from $239 to $795 per night, the Business Journal reports.

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