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Historic Minneapolis mansion on the block

By Burl Gilyard
Dolan Media Newswires

Minneapolis — Not every property for sale qualifies as a shrine.

But the Zuhrah Shrine Center — historically known as the Harrington Mansion — is on the market in Minneapolis.

“It is a very large building,” said Tony Krall, a member of the Zuhrah Shrine board of directors. “With the economic downturn, it’s an expensive building to maintain.”

The Zuhrah Shrine fraternal organization has owned the building and its accompanying carriage house since 1929. Back then, the Shriners paid just $25,000 for the property, which dates to 1906.

“We’ve owned it a long time. My grandfather was a member there,” Krall said.

But today, with membership and the events business both in decline, the Zuhrah Shrine members and board have voted, reluctantly, to put the property on the market.

The Shriners have tapped Jerry Driessen and Joe Hughes of the local office of CB Richard Ellis to list the property for sale or lease. The mansion and carriage house total 30,000 square feet. The event center, built in 1990, is 54,000 square feet.

The building is listed for sale at $5 million. Lease rates are negotiable. The site, at 2540 Park Ave., is 1.66 acres and includes 124 parking spaces.

The Shriners have been hit by a decline in event, meeting and corporate business.

“Lots of things have changed in the neighborhood, but we had people who met there regularly. It became more and more difficult to rent it for daytime use,” Krall said. “People still get married, but the size of weddings has gone way down. People aren’t spending as much.

“We try to be good neighbors in the area,” Krall said. “We make it available for community groups when we can, but that doesn’t pay the bills.”

There has been recent investment in the surrounding area.

The $27 million Center for Changing Lives, a project of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, opened immediately to the north of the Shrine property in 2008.

Krall is hopeful that the unique property will draw interest.

“There are some educational institutions in the area, there’s caterers — that event center is large,” Krall said. “Those who use it really like the old-world charm of the mansion.”

If a buyer is found, the Zuhrah Shrine group will look for a smaller site for a headquarters. The group has about 2,600 members today.

“We’re exploring a number of options, but being a sole owner of a huge facility like this is just not feasible,” Krall said.

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