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The church buys historical Mpls.  construction of the former Tony-winning theater for 10 million dollars

A business deal turned a former theater stage into a church altar.

The historic building in Minneapolis’ warehouse district that once housed the Tony-winning Young Moon Theater has been sold for $10 million to River Valley Church.

Known as Aria, the 77,000 square foot structure has hosted a slew of events, including fashion shows, concerts and weddings, over the years.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished with Aria over the past 11 years, starting with David Byrne playing in the building and the various events we’ve hosted there, from the Super Bowl to the NCAA Final Four, in passing through Prince who has been there many times,” said founder and former owner Peter Remes, a developer of old and historic buildings. “Aria was a beacon and a creative spark in Minnesota.”

Remes, a former Young Moon board member, bought out the building through his company, 100-105 1st Avenue North LLC, in 2010. He paid $855,000.

River Valley is an Apple Valley-based congregation with nearly 10,000 members and nine locations in the Twin Cities, with another planned for Maple Grove this spring. The church first held its services in Minneapolis at a bar, The Pourhouse, before renting the former Young Moon space three years ago, according to experienced executive pastor Darren Lee.

“Having a church in a bar was a fitting complement to the energy and character of their new campus expansion,” he said in an emailed statement.

River Valley held its first worship service as owners of the building on February 13. Known for its Christian rock bands and video sermons, the church is a member of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God.

Over the past decade, it has consistently ranked among the fastest growing and largest churches in the country.

“Pastor Rob Ketterling and the leadership team at River Valley Church are committed to investing in this community and creating a vibrant church environment,” Lee said.

Jeune Lune, founded in Paris in 1978 by Dominique Serrand, Barbra Berlovitz and Vincent Gracieux, stages captivating works. The business was itinerant until it moved into its warehouse in 1992. Jeune Lune won a regional Tony Award for Excellence in 2005, but went bankrupt in 2008.

That it’s now a church is “ironic,” Berlovitz said, noting that theater evolved out of religious practice.

“It’s one of the unique spaces in the United States, and it’s sad that it’s no longer part of the arts community,” Berlovitz said.

Writer Erica Pearson contributed to this report.

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