Turning old to new in the North Loop
By ERIC BEST : The Journal : FEBRUARY 21, 2017 UPDATED: FEBRUARY 24, 2017 – 3:07 PM
Two developers have a plan to revive a 19th-century warehouse complex in the heart of the city’s trendiest neighborhood.
Paster Properties of St. Louis Park and Minneapolis-based Urban Anthology have purchased the Hillman Building and the neighboring Porter Electric Warehouse at 3rd Avenue North and 2nd Street North, located across the street from the Colonial Warehouse Building.
They plan to turn the approximately 24,000-square-foot complex into office and retail space for new tenants on the increasingly popular intersection, which also features destination retailers like women’s fashion co-op D.NOLO, high-end stationery store russel + hazel and men’s boutique MartinPartick3. Jeff Herman, president of Urban Anthology, said the intersection, which he called the main commercial intersection of the neighborhood, has similarities with shopping nodes like Edina’s 50th & France and Uptown’s Hennepin & Lake. But one thing sets the North Loop apart.
“In the North Loop you have that history that speaks for itself,” he said. “You don’t have that in Uptown. You don’t have that at 50th & France. You don’t have the same character of architectural history. That’s what make this area really unique.”
The renovated complex will have approximately 10,000 square feet of boutique office space for smaller tenants like an advertising agency. On the retail side, 10,000 square feet could be home to a restaurant and stores, Herman said.
“We have tremendous potential to rehab this property and bring it back to life and what it needs to be for the 21st century,” he said.
Herman is well versed in the neighborhood’s retail scene. He has represented Grethen House, located in the Colonial Warehouse Building, D. NOLO, located kiddy corner from the Hillman Building at 219 N 2nd St., and The Freehouse, among others, in locking down their locations. The complex’s owners — family friends of his — contacted him regarding the sale and redevelopment of the buildings, which have not seen improvements since the 1960s or 1970s, Herman said.
The complex at 120-126 3rd Ave. N. was constructed in the late 1800s, with the 1888 Hillman Building being used by the American Hide and Fur Company, according to a Paster spokeswoman. The Porter building originally provided showroom, office and storage space for agriculture implements, as Minneapolis was the largest distribution point in the world for the industry around the turn of the 20th century.
Historic preservation work on the buildings will restore brick, windows and doors while upgrading things like electrical, plumbing and mechanical infrastructure. Paster expects to begin work this May or June and wrap up the renovation around October.
“[The project] has tremendous potential to rehab this building and bring it back to life and what it needs to be for the 21st century,” he said.
The buildings are home to several tenants, including Above the Falls Sports, a company that hosts kayak and trike tours around the Mississippi River. Owner Bob Schmitz said, while they’d like to stay in the building as long as possible, they are looking for either a new home or a business to partner with in the area, or both.
“This has been a great space for us and great from a neighborhood standpoint,” he said.
Across the neighborhood, another warehouse
On the opposite side of the neighborhood another warehouse building, this time the home of Zuccaro’s Produce, is set to be redeveloped. Minneapolis-based developer Schafer Richardson has unveiled a preliminary proposal to overhaul the 1920s building into a five-story office development.
In a presentation to the North Loop Neighborhood Association’s Planning and Zoning Committee in February, representatives with the North Loop-based developer said their current plan is to add three stories onto the former industrial building at 10th & 3rd.
Maureen Michalski, Schafer Richardson’s director of development, said the five-story building would be used as an office building targeting smaller creative-class companies. The building is about 28,000 square feet and Schafer Richardson’s plan would roughly double that for about 53,000 square feet of usable office space. UrbanWorks Architecture of Minneapolis is handling the project’s design.
To update the building, the developer is proposing to strip the building of its 11-year-old stucco exterior to expose its original brick. The current proposal calls for demolishing a loading dock and adding an elevator and bathrooms in a new portion. The site features roughly 40 surface parking spots and the redeveloped building would have about 24.
Representatives said they could begin work as soon as this summer if some office space was pre-leased. A nine-month construction timeline would mean the 66-foot-tall project could open by next spring if tenants came forward. The developer has a purchase agreement for the building.
As a separate development, the developer is also looking to build a five-story parking ramp across the street at 1001 N. 3rd St. While that proposal is even more preliminary, Schafer Richardson representatives said an approximately 52-foot-fall ramp could have about 300 stalls. A small liner parcel in front of the ramp along 10th Avenue could host additional retail, housing or office space. The site is currently an 86-space surface parking lot.
Michalski told the neighborhood group that the ramp would likely be contract parking and could be available for non-office workers after business hours.
The developer is very active in the neighborhood’s office market. Along the quickly developing 5th Street, Schafer Richardson is planning to invest in an industrial building at 700 N. 5th St. to turn it into creative office space. The building, which is divided into a one-story, 30,000-square-foot portion and a two-story, 60,000-square-foot portion, is currently home to Weather-Rite, but the company will be vacating soon, Michalski said. The developer is no longer pursuing an 11-story office project dubbed @mosphere that would have replaced the building.
The underdeveloped portion of the North Loop has seen several new construction and redevelopment projects, including the now-open District 600 apartment building and North Loop BrewCo, which replaced a one-story Tubs Inc. building. The 182-unit Junction Flats community opened just a few years ago.