ST. PAUL-Jump-started by a recent $3-million injection of public money, the century-old Lowry Medical Arts Building on St. Peter Street is about to get a $34-million facelift. Developer Rich Pakonen is renovating the 12-story office building into 129 condominium units, and is expected to try to find a few restaurants or nightclubs for the project.

The Lowry condo models, featuring modern designs, recently went on display. They will range in price from $110,000 to more than $500,000, and some will feature large windows and terrazzo floors.

City planners hope the project will boost Downtown retail, property tax revenues and nightlife on the block between Fourth and Fifth streets. Housing advocates worry that the city is helping to finance a project that fails to meet its affordable housing goals.

Other attempts to renovate and revive the Lowry have failed, including one by Dallas-based Avex Realty several years ago. Pakonen’s previous project in Downtown St. Paul was converting the Rossmor Building, an old shoe factory, into 129 loft condos.

The St. Paul City Council recently approved a $2.2-million forgivable loan to Pakonen, who also stands to receive $800,000 from the Metropolitan Council.

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