The old Miller Bag Building, plonked on the outskirts of Northeast Minneapolis’ commercial core, is pretty big. Actually, the hulking four-story structure and its three outbuildings are legitimately out of scale with their surroundings.
But scale isn’t necessarily influential. Since 2013, when the anchor tenant (the former Sam Miller Bag Company, now Airtex Design Group) moved to a modern facility in the Northeast Broadway industrial zone, the building has been about 80 percent empty. According to the Star Tribune
, the rapidly changing manufacturing landscape forced building owner (and Airtex shareholder) Mike Miller “to reassess our manufacturing needs” and find a more suitable space.
Not one to leave an historically significant building hanging, Miller brought in the Ackerberg Group
to help re-imagine Miller Bag as a proper 21st century mixed-use space. They renamed the complex the Miller Textile Building and retained RoehrSchmitt Architecture
in NE Minneapolis to craft a suitably ambitious plan for adaptive reuse.
Three years on, the $8 million redevelopment is paying off. Ackerberg recently finalized a lease with St. Louis Park-based Stahl Construction
, which agreed to take the entire second floor — a major get that brings dozens of jobs from the suburbs to the urban core
, and brings the 48,000-square-foot Miller Textile to 35 percent occupancy. (Other leases are in the works, so it’s likely that building’s actual occupancy ratio is higher.)
“We renovated the building to create class B office and warehouse space with new infrastructure to serve the burgeoning need for office and retail space in Northeast Minneapolis, [and] house the explosive entrepreneurial energy attracted to this established arts district.,” says architect Michael Roehr, principal and co-founder of RoehrSchmitt.
The building was sorely in need of an overhaul. “We basically gutted the building to replace all the basic systems: plumbing, HVAC, electrical and lighting, and sprinklers,” Roehr says. “The main entry, core and circulation system was relocated to the center of the building, with new restrooms and a lobby featuring images and artifacts that celebrate the building's manufacturing history.”
The remodel also added and expanded windows to create “bright, welcoming and efficient spaces for professional and creative businesses to take advantage of the building’s unique environment,” he adds. A problematic part of the third floor was removed entirely “to create a dramatic double-height space,” and an “old-growth subfloor” was salvaged and reincorporated into design elements throughout the complex.
Roehr is proud of Miller Textile’s economical, resource-light, even low-key redo. “The project was accomplished on a tight budget, and represents a case study in efficiently wringing value and relevance from a building that would typically remain abandoned or be threatened with demolition to make way for something new,” he enthuses.
It’s convenient, too. According to Roehr, Miller Textile has upwards of 80 free, off-street parking spaces and, when complete, will boast plenty of on-site bike parking.