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Historic warehouses convert into modern apartments in North Loop

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The three historic warehouses in the popular North Loop district near downtown Minneapolis should have been a popular item when they hit the market a few years ago.

Instead, it took years to find a buyer.

Many developers have found multiple issues by looking at three side-by-side buildings on Washington Avenue, which is part of Duffy Paper’s complex.

The floorboards are too big to be easily carved into the apartment. There is not enough parking and no place to build it. In addition, listing on the National Register of Historic Places limits possible changes.

Cedar St Cos, a Chicago-based developer. Was not blocked. After years of planning and construction, the company recently completed Duffy Loft. The $ 71 million multipurpose project includes 188 rental properties, a public coffee bar, and a rare 7-story “Lightwell” cut in the center of one of the buildings.

And now the company is ready to start over at the old Duffy warehouse a few blocks away. The restore will be more than twice the size of the first restore.

CedarSt has closed two warehouses in Duffey (known for the skyway above 3rd Street N. that connects them) and a two-block parking lot from Duffey Lofts.

Developers will spend $ 171 million on repairs that will bring an additional 358 rents to the North Loop.

This includes the conversion of an 8-story, 275,000-square-foot warehouse to 260 rentals, retail space, and underground parking.

Connected to a large warehouse by Skyway, the five-story 108,000-square-foot warehouse has 50 apartments, more retail stores, more underground parking, and 20,000-square-foot amenity space.

The parking lot will be replaced by a five-story building with 34 rental properties, a retail store on the first floor and a parking lot for nearly 300 cars.

Together, the 550,000-square-foot project has 42,000-square-foot retail space and some unusual equipment. This includes a full size bowling lane, swimming pool, hot tub and coworking space for residents.

Mark Heffron, Managing Partner and Chief Development Officer at CedarSt, said the project, which combines historic elements with modern equipment, “how to maintain its credibility … but still enough to make a deal a pencil. It is driven by one question: “Make major changes to the building.”

CedarSt has adopted BKV Group and RJM Construction to work on both projects.

Ted Beckman, senior vice president of RJM, said the plan took about as long as the dismantling and construction of the newly completed Duffy Loft project.

Although the building was showing age, it was sturdy and had “strong bones”, so it was a major change to the building within the regulatory constraints of the Minnesota Preservation Department, which accompanies a historical tax credit to help raise funds. He said he was able to do it. Expensive refurbishment.

“All three different buildings had their own challenges,” says Beckman. “It took a lot of vision.”

Beckman and Heflon agreed that one of the biggest challenges was finding a way to add enough parking.

Underground parking was not possible due to the building being on bedrock, logistically and economically difficult.

Instead, the company used ComSlab, a steel and concrete flooring system never used in the region, to build a parking lot for 113 cars in a central building.

“Pulling the parking lot was really embarrassing,” Heflon said.

The remaining one-third of the building was reused as the main lobby of Duffey Lofts, a fully modernized 80×40-foot high space. The design is reminiscent of the origin of the building industry.

The focus of its lobby is the original crane used to unload steel from railroad cars running behind the building.

“It allowed us to actually recreate the historical features of the building,” said Heflon.

The lobby has another unique feature. It’s a public coffee bar.

According to Heflon, the company recently signed a lease to operate the St. Paul-based bootstrap coffee roaster and space, saying that more people will be able to celebrate and use the space.

“That all space and every character will be very trafficked, and it will be cool,” he said.

According to Hefon, one of the biggest breakthroughs in the commercial to residential transition is the addition of Lightwell. It was cut in the center of the largest and tallest iron shop building of the three buildings.

Residential buildings are usually relatively narrow (about 55-80 feet wide), and apartments have windows lined up along at least one outer wall, according to Heflon.

The Iron Store building, which measures approximately 120 feet by 165 feet, is almost non-rectangular. So instead of splitting the space into very long and narrow shotgun-style apartments, not only are there windows on one end, but the 28 x 30 foot openings in the center of all seven floors are all. Create a light well that gives windows to your apartment. ..

The apartments along the outer walls offer views of the surroundings, and the internal units surrounding the lights give a good view of the courtyard-like space.

Without Lightwell, the apartment would have to have no windows or be much larger, and would be much more expensive, Heflon said.

So far, according to Heflon, the apartments facing the light were easy to rent, partly because there was no street noise at all.

Also, given the current unit structure, leasing activity is already higher than expected. The entire building will be rented 50% within 3 months of opening. Studio rents start at $ 1,100 and one-bedroom units start at $ 1,450.

According to Heflon, the company has done a similar job at Chicago’s adaptive reuse project, Draper. We plan to cut one in the next project, informally called Duffy 2.0, and start construction later this month. Its light wells are much larger (38 feet x 71 feet) and are professionally landscaped.

RJM project manager Simon Mark, who was on site daily at Duffey Lofts, said construction of these lightwells began at the top and the crew was working downwards. When they cut, a large amount of concrete and debris fell to the floor below and needed to be reinforced with metal joists recovered from another part of the project.

It took the crew several weeks to cut these openings using a walk-behind concrete saw with 36-48 inch blades.

Given the complexity of such a project, Beckman said some might wonder if it would have been easier to cover the building with a bulldozer and start from scratch. That’s not always the case, he said.

“It wouldn’t have been beneficial to start over,” Beckman said. “These historic buildings serve a wonderful purpose.”

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