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Is St. Paul still '1st'? Owners reportedly plan to re-light the sign to show it

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It may feel extra chilly in St. Paul these days – now that the city has lost a blinking red night light that seems to be a security blanket of sorts for folks in Minnesota's capital city.

It's been less than a week since the lights went out on the big number 1 sign atop the First National Bank Building.

KARE 11 reported on Sunday that after the sign was damaged by wind, the company that purchased the building in November – Madison Equities – turned off the big numeral and was exploring options for how to proceed.

One downtown visitor dismayed by the darkness of the sign that went up in 1931 told KARE: "It's as iconic a landmark in St Paul as the dome of the Cathedral or the State Capitol."

Getting LED lights

Well, it apparently didn't take Madison Equities very long to explore its options. By Monday vice president Scott Goltz was telling the Star Tribune the company plans to replace the sign's original neon glass tubes with more durable and energy effecient LED lighting.

“To have to shut it down is kind of heartbreaking for us,” Goltz told the newspaper. “It’s kind of why we bought [the building].”

The owner of Madison Equities, James Crockarell, told the Star Tribune he was surprised how much attention the sign generated in the days after it went dark.

And it's not as if Crockarell is a stranger to St. Paul. Madison Equities specializes in real estate within Ramsey County. The Business Journal notes the company's other downtown holdings include U.S. Bank Center and the Degree of Honor Building.

Madison purchased the First National Bank Building from a New York-based company, Nightingale Properties in November.

Goltz tells the Star Tribune it will cost about $500,000 to refurbish the blinking red sign with LED lights and the company hopes to have the work done by the end of the summer.

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