Stay in the Loop

Hotel Developers Hope To Create “North Loop’s Living Room”

Now that the historic blacksmith building made its slow roll back into place along 1st Street, we should start seeing rapid progress on the new West Hotel project being built around it.

In fact, the new 6-story concrete base structure should be topped off by January and the full project completed by fall of 2023, according to one of the owners, David Wilson, who spoke to the North Loop Neighborhood Association’s Planning & Zoning Committee.

Some of the other exciting new details he passed along:

  • The historic Commutator building along with the foundry shed behind it are being thoroughly restored. The ghost signs on the building’s exterior will stay, and any new brick that has to be added is being stained to match the original. The ground floor windows, wood floors and beams—all nearly 140 years old—are being restored. The smoke stack will be brought back to the shed (and will no longer be leaning).
  • The 6th level of the new hotel will include a rooftop bar with a wall of windows and outdoor terrace facing the downtown Minneapolis skyline.
  • There will be a “really beautiful basement bar,” according to Wilson, “with a very exciting partner,” which he can’t yet announce. The entrance will be through an old staircase they’re restoring outside the building along 2nd Avenue (currently covered by pavement) with new planters separating the sidewalk from the staircase.
  • The former shed will become the lobby lounge with a large fireplace and free public WiFi. It will have coffee and breakfast in the morning (not just for hotel guests) and then drinks in the evening. 

Lobby lounge

  • Chef Tim McKee’s Basque-inspired restaurant will have seating both in the newly-built structure and in the lower floor of the historic Commutator building. Weather permitting, there will be outdoor tables along 1st Street as well as a nicely-landscaped dining terrace in the back alley.
  • There will be a new bakery run by Chef McKee with an entrance off 1st Street.
  • The new hotel will have brick masonry exterior and floor to ceiling windows. It will have original art throughout. The owners commissioned five different artists—some of whom have had shows at the Walker—to create new works for the West Hotel.
  • The historic blacksmith building that was just moved will have meeting rooms on the 2nd floor and dining space on the street level.
  • The ownership group acquired another historic building next door that will now be incorporated into the project, the one at 115 North 1st Street which was formerly home to JetSet bar. It will be used as event space.
  • The West Hotel is named after the first grand luxury hotel ever built in downtown Minneapolis, at 5th and Hennepin. Winston Churchill and Mark Twain were among the illustrious guests who stayed at the original West Hotel. It was built in 1884, the same year as the building we now know as the Commutator, which was originally a boarding house, known as The American House.

Original West Hotel

Wilson told the Planning & Zoning committee, this project is as much for North Loop neighbors to enjoy as out-of-towners. “We really want this to be the living room for the North Loop,” he said. “We want this to be very community-oriented.”

By Mike Binkley, North Loop volunteer

The stack will be back–and upright this time.

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