Building ideas

JAHNA PELOQUIN | Updated 9/13/2012

Urban developer Peter Remes looks to make an impact on local culture.

Peter Remes
Photo by Joey Mcleister

He may look like Minneapolis' answer to Andy Warhol, but Peter Remes is more interested in leaving a lasting legacy than having 15 minutes of fame.

"I am inspired by a rich sense of history, and uncovering something new and interesting out of what appears to be useless and decrepit," the developer/entrepreneur says.

Although you may not know him by name, Remes has made a mark on the Twin Cities landscape, redeveloping unused urban spaces. He lent his touch to the former Theatre de la Jeune Lune (reimagined as an event space called Aria at the Jeune Lune), the Icehouse/Vertical Endeavors complex at 2540 Nicollet Av. S., and the soon-to-open 612Brew brewery on the corner of Broadway and Central Av. NE. Not to mention the slew of dormant buildings throughout the Twin Cities that he's transformed into office spaces.

No day is a typical workday for Remes. "It is like eating 31 flavors of ice cream all at once," he says. "I run in different directions simultaneously." Constantly on the hunt for opportunities to re-create buildings and physical spaces, he spends much of his time forging partnerships and collaborations and brainstorming new ideas.

Although he says he "was born an entrepreneur," Remes got his start in the development business with his remodeling of the Van Buren Building in Northeast. "With the Van Buren, I was intrigued with the possibility of repurposing this old neglected manufacturing building into a creative and contemporary business space," he says.

But despite being in the business of aesthetics, it's about more than appearances for Remes. "I'm always searching for unique opportunities to shape and change culture and society," he says. "I am moved by new ideas and exploring what is possible. The process and results are an incredible high. The power of transformation -- mind or matter -- is incredible to witness."

His biggest challenge? Time management. "I require a few body doubles," he says. But, he insists, "It's not work! I feel very fortunate."

Next up for Remes: a collaboration with pop legend David Byrne. Titled "Play the Building," it's set to open at Aria on Nov. 5 and run for 30 continuous days. He won't divulge much else, only to say, "It will be memorable and amazing -- I promise!"


Age: "Old enough to know better." Job: Cultural developer & engineer, First & First LLC. Hire date: "Everyday." Education: Speech communications at the University of Minnesota and "the School of Life."