Northrup King Apartments to house artists in Minneapolis

The historic Northrup King campus in northeast Minneapolis, where artists have long established their studios, is fast becoming a place they can live too.

After two years of fundraising, nonprofit developer Artspace finalized its plan to transform three buildings on the sprawling campus into 84 affordable apartments and a cultural center by 2024. Future plans call for the rehabilitation of four more closed buildings. into artist-focused spaces.

The project is being hailed as a victory for the city, which struggles with a lack of affordable housing, and a welcome investment in a century-old complex considered the crown jewel of northeast Minneapolis.

“This Northrup building was the cornerstone of the movement that transformed Northeast into an arts district,” said Kevin Reich, member of Minneapolis City Council, who grew up in the neighborhood. “Every time we add to it, it’s a cause for celebration.”

Construction is slated to begin next year for the $ 43 million project, which was funded by grants and loans from the city, state, citizens and an environmental group.

While 84 new units won’t make a big dent in Minneapolis’ affordable housing crisis, city officials and neighbors are delighted that the 13-acre site west of Central Avenue, with its massive seed elevators and its industrial brick buildings, becomes even more important hub for artists, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet.

“Northeast Minneapolis is quickly getting more expensive,” said Greg Handberg, senior vice president of properties for Artspace. “This is historically the place where the city’s concentration of artists lived and worked, so they are very much in danger of being evaluated.”

The renovation, said Handberg, “is largely about creating a solution for the city’s largest district.”

Creating unique spaces for artists is what Artspace does.

The nonprofit has spent 10 years converting warehouses, tanneries, department stores, feed grain and barn buildings into new homes and galleries for urban artists in Iowa, Colorado, the California, Connecticut, New York and Frogtown, Harrison and Logan Park of the Twin Cities. neighborhoods.

When the city called Artspace in 2017 to see if it was interested in talking to Debbie Woodward, daughter of Northrup King owner and late Twin Cities landowner Jim Stanton, about the site’s purchase, Artspace jumped in.

As a condition of the purchase, Artspace has pledged not to move the 350 painters, potters, weavers, photographers and sculptors who rent the 200 art studios from Northrup King. Since purchasing the huge complex, Artspace has listed it on the National Register of Historic Places.

Northrup King opened in 1917 as a seed sorting and distribution company. Six huge seed silos and several industrial buildings remain on site at 1500 Jackson St. NE. more than 35 years after leaving the seed company.

The brick buildings are found among the studios, restaurants, and breweries of an art-centric district that includes the Thorp Building, Casket Arts Building, Solar Arts Building, and the nearby California Building.

Northrup King is a centerpiece of the studio and annual Art-A-Whirl music festival and home to Art Attack, “First Thursdays” festivals and Open Saturday tours that bring together hundreds for weekly artistic explorations. .

Housing will add a new dimension.

Next year, Artspace will begin transforming two buildings into 163,000 square feet of apartments that will exude the awesome industrial charm that only 105-year-old brick, iron and chunky beam structures can impart.

The plans include art galleries, shared workspaces, a laundry room and secure bicycle storage for residents. A third vacant building will be rehabilitated and will become a cultural and artistic center.

Apartments will be available for artists representing 30% to 80% of Minneapolis median income in the region, or about $ 31,000 to $ 78,500 for a four-person household.

Rents will range from around $ 700 to $ 1,500 per month.

On a recent tour, Artspace’s Handberg showed sweeping views of the city center while envisioning a vibrant future for the long-abandoned spaces.

“I can see shows going on here,” he said, turning on the lights inside a former seed warehouse to illuminate its towering wooden beams, iron accordion doors, coupe doors. -15 feet high fire and its loading docks which flow onto an old rail. Platform.

Dashing in and out of buildings haunted by pigeons, Handberg pointed out a half-dozen six-story seed silos connected high up by a walkway, curving walls and unexpected windows.

“It will all stay. It has to become an art gallery,” said Handberg, stepping over pigeon carcasses and around seed chutes, hoppers, fans and other machinery left behind.

Artspace acts as a project developer. He works with the Minneapolis-based architectural firm Cuningham plus Watson-Forsberg in St. Louis Park and TRI-Construction owned by Black and North Minneapolis as general contractors.

Artspace will add a playground, 150 new parking spaces, landscaping and a new stormwater management system to make the site user-friendly for resident artists and their neighbors.

Artspace spent two years fundraising and received grants or loans from the city of Minneapolis, the state, and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization.

Pat Vogel, a board member for the Logan Park Neighborhood Association, said she was thrilled to see Artspace redevelop the site instead of an “out-of-state developer” determined to create expensive housing that displaces cash-strapped locals.

“Very affordable housing is what we need, [so Artspace] was well received, ”said Vogel.

Reich appreciates historic preservation and the emphasis on affordability.

“It’s like, wow! We have the only artistic community that [didn’t get gentrified]”, he said.” Instead, he has to keep his character, his people and [even gained] artist accommodation. It adds a whole new dynamic. “

Glass fusion artist Mary Schwartz breathed a long sigh of relief over the future plans for the buildings. She said she can now sleep easy and welcome more artists to the campus that she sees as a second home.

“Phew!” she said. “That will be nice.”

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About Bernice D. Brewer

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