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Northgate Brewing expands to include taproom, more craft ales

After just one year, Northgate Brewing is upgrading to new digs. The Northeast Minneapolis brewery just signed a lease on a new space at 783 Harding Street NE, which will include a 1,500-square-foot taproom.

Co-owner Adam Sjogren says neither he nor his partners anticipated the rapid growth. At around 750 square feet, Northgate’s current location at 3134 California Street NE is one of the smallest brewing spaces around. “We were very small,” Sjogren says. “There was not a lot of room to grow.”

With almost ten times the square footage, including the taproom, the new space will allow Sjogren to experiment with different brewing techniques that will be even more true to the brewery’s focus on English session ales.

“We really want to be able to have the space to do some barrel aging, some real ales—cask stuff—and be able to make some one-off batches and test them in the taproom to see what people really like,” Sjogren says.

Most English-style ales get a bad wrap in the States, Sjogren says. They don’t pack the same slap of citrusy hops and don’t have the same high alcohol content Minnesota beer drinkers have become accustomed to in their microbrews.

By nature of the ingredients and brewing process, these session ales don’t travel or store well, Sjogren adds. They have to be enjoyed fresh, and thus close to where they’re produced. He and business partner Todd Slininger grew fond of the earthy freshness these beers offer while traveling in the British Isles several years ago.

“It’s really good over there, but it gets represented poorly, we think, here in the States,” he says.

There will soon be more of Northgate’s fresh session ales. The brewery produced around 300 barrels in its first year, according to Sjogren. That was distributed between 30 different tap accounts around town and about 40 liquor stores. With the added space, Sjogren expects Northgate will have the capacity to produce around 1,500 barrels the first year.

Northgate’s new space will share a building with the soon-to-open Wander North Distillery—a new venture by Brian Winter who is looking to distill quality spirits from locally sourced grains. Winter and Northgate’s head brewer Tuck Carruthers used to play on the same rugby team, according to Sjogren.

Collaboration between the distillery and brewery is a foregone conclusion, Sjogren says. What might such collaboration look like? Sjogren says Northgate could make a “wash”—the process of rinsing the yeast used to brew a batch of beer for reuse—then give the wash to the distillery to use and age for spirits.

Sjogren attributes a good deal of Northgate’s early success to the supportive craft beer community in Northeast Minneapolis. Several other recently opened breweries have experienced similar growth and expansion in the last year and half. Indeed Brewing Co., Dangerous Man Brewing Co., and 612 Brew are among them.

“It’s as true as everybody says and most people don’t believe,” Sjogren says of the mutually supportive craft beer scene in the Twin Cities. Northgate Brewing plans to open its new space later this year.

Source: Adam Sjogren
Writer: Kyle Mianulli

Sunrise Market: old-world traditions, gluten-free options

The grand opening of Sunrise Creative Gourmet Market on Saturday, March 8, continues a 100-year-long tradition for the Forti family of bringing hard working Minnesotans authentic Italian cuisine. The new venture at 865 Pierce Butler Route in Saint Paul includes a retail location, factory outlet, and large-scale cooperative commercial kitchen with dedicated gluten-free space.

Fourth generation owner Tom Forti is building on the foundation laid by his great grandfather in 1913, when he opened the original Sunrise Bakery in Hibbing. Guilio Forti emigrated from Rome in the early 1900s to work in the mines of southern Minnesota. Already in his 50s, he soon decided to leave the mine and return to his former craft—baking artisan Italian breads.

Sunrise Creative Gourmet holds its Italian heritage close while bringing age-old recipes into the modern age. Many of the recipes used today have been passed down from generation to generation, according to Forti. Using imported Italian equipment along with locally sourced ingredients maintains another level of authenticity while incorporating modern flare.

“It’s an emotional investment in the product,” Forti says.  “We’re a very prideful family and we take great pleasure in knowing people like our food.”

That pride was reaffirmed Saturday. With more than 500 customers stopping in to sample both classic and new fare from Sunrise, the small market was bustling from open to close. “It’s great for a little shop like this…we had no idea what to expect,” Forti says. “It was a pleasant surprise.”

Forti’s father started his own spinoff of Sunrise Bakery when he opened Sunrise Deli in Hibbing, incorporating fresh pastas, Italian meats, and more to the family’s line of baked goods. He and Tom’s mother own and operate the deli today, while his aunt and cousin run the original Sunrise Bakery, both in Hibbing.

Tom Forti is now bringing a new perspective to the family business. After graduating from the University of Saint Thomas in 2001, he went to work in the food industry, spending three years working retail and restaurants in Idaho. He moved back to Hibbing in 2004 to bring a wholesaling aspect to the family business. For the past nine years he has been working for Trudeau Distributing, a specialty grocery distribution company.

Through that role, he’s formed important relationships with Twin Cities’ grocers and co-ops, he says. He’s also become a familiar sight at area farmers’ markets, where he staffs the family stand.

While the Saint Paul retail expansion is an exciting development for the family business, it’s the cooperative commercial kitchen component that has Forti’s passion cooking.

“This building is going to service as retail, but really, we’re here to produce gluten-free pasta and hopefully gluten-free entrees,” he says.

With half the space dedicated for gluten-free production, Forti is looking forward to bringing in up to 12 other small- to medium-size businesses to use the space and sell their products in the marketplace up front.

The Sunrise Market will carry products from all the family’s related businesses including, fresh, frozen and dried pastas, sauces and porketta, as well as signature potica, biscotti, and other baked goods.

Source: Tom Forti
Writer: Kyle Mianulli

ARTIFY transforms Midway lot into public art site

One year ago, the former Midway Chevrolet car dealership at 1333 University Avenue was yet another vacant lot along the Central Corridor—a remnant from a previous era when car dealerships dominated the Midway area of Saint Paul. Today, the lot stands as a colorful, artistic sign of things to come.

Over the past year, artist/organizer Oskar Ly has been working on a large-scale public art project at the site dubbed “ARTIFY—Bringing the Arts to Hamline Station.” Her project aims to create a renewed sense of place around the site ahead of a 108-unit affordable housing development, which Project for Pride in Living plans to break ground on this spring.

Ly brought community members and more than two-dozen local artists together to create 20 public art installments and 11 performances at the lot—all based on the theme “Home is…” She says the goal is to signify the transformation of an abandoned business to a place people would soon call home.

ARTIFY capped-off its yearlong project with a final celebration, “Midway is Home,” last Saturday. Artists reflected on their work, while spectators toured the grounds to view the various installments. Poetry for Thought, a local effort to inspire community dialogue through spoken word performances, organized area poets to present original works and spark discussion of what “home” means.

Janell Repp, a Saint Paul native, has lived all over the world, most recently in India. For her, home is often changing, she says. She once purchased a car at the Midway Chevrolet dealership. “I sat in this office and signed the papers,” she said. “It’s funny how time changes…you make your home where you are… and you keep moving through time.”

The most visible installation to passerby is a large mural painted at the Saint Paul Open Streets event last summer. It depicts a row of colorful houses over the façade of the old dealership with the words “Home is Hamline Midway” printed across the top. Another piece involves 108 house-shaped wood cutouts decorated by area youth with their own ideas of what “home” is.

Mischa Keagan and Witt Siasoco held several workshops at the Hamline Midway and Rondo libraries where people traced places they considered home on large green canvases that are now on display at the site. “All along people talked about their family, their kids, their homes, and their dogs…it was a really nice way to get to know people in the community,” Keagan said.

Most of the art installments will remain on display till demolition begins this spring. Ly says she has at least one more project planned. She hopes to hang large photos on the fence surrounding the construction site this summer. “I want to create a façade that helps create an environment that’s more community-oriented than if it was just a construction site,” she said.

The future PPL development will feature a public plaza to display art, thanks in part to the ARTIFY project, according to Ly.

ARTIFY is supported by Irrigate Arts, an artist-led creative placemaking initiative that seeks to foster a new sense of place through public art along the Central Corridor. Irrigate is made possible through a partnership between the City of Saint Paul, Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and Springboard for the Arts.

Sources: Oskar Ly, Janell Repp, Mischa Keagan
Writer: Kyle Mianulli

President Obama highlights TC transportation during Depot stop

The Twin Cities’ growing transportation infrastructure grabbed the national spotlight when President Barack Obama dropped by the newly renovated Union Depot in Saint Paul last Wednesday to tout a $300-billion-dollar transportation proposal.

Obama pointed to the $243-million-dollar Depot makeover in Lowertown as an example of the boost transportation development can give to local economies. “This project symbolizes what’s possible,” he said.

The project was supported, in part, through a federal grant program known as TIGER, or Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, which was created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“All told, more than 4,000 jobs were created for this project. And we’re seeing businesses crop up and new development crop up all along the line,” Obama said.

During his speech, Obama announced a $600-million expansion of the competitive TIGER grant program to spur economic development across the country. He plans to help finance the plan by simplifying the tax code and closing loopholes—a tactic Republicans generally oppose.

To hear the President speak, some 1,300-ticketed spectators filed into the multi-modal transit hub that will soon service the Metro Transit’s new Green Line, bus lines, and Amtrak trains.

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-St. Paul, who played an integral role in garnering $124 million in federal funding for the Depot project, was among them. She accompanied Obama on his flight from Washington aboard Air Force One.

“The President’s visit here today represents a great victory for all of the tireless champions of transit here in the east metro,” McCollum said in a statement. “Union Depot will serve as the crown jewel of transportation in the state of Minnesota and provide a critical upgrade to our region’s infrastructure.”

A shiny new light rail train that will soon be rolling down the Central Corridor was on full display in front of the Depot for Obama’s appearance. The President toured the maintenance facility for the trains during his visit.

“I just had a chance to take a look at some of those spiffy new trains,” Obama said. “They are nice. And they’re energy efficient. They’re going to be reliable. You can get from one downtown to the other in a little over 30 minutes.”

In an embarrassing turn, the new train that was on display careened off a snow bank and derailed on its return trip from the Depot shortly after Obama departed. It took workers several hours get the train back on track, according to the Star Tribune.

Obama didn’t miss the opportunity to bond with Minnesotans over what is turning out to be the coldest winter in decades. He chided Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, a North Carolinian, who introduced the President at the event, for being soft in the cold.

“When we got off the plane, Secretary Foxx…turned to me and he said, ‘This is the coldest I’ve ever been in my life.’ Now we were only out there for like a minute,” Obama said. The President added that as a native of Chicago, he found the single-digit temperatures that day “balmy.” “February in Minnesota—can’t beat it. Cannot beat it,” he said.

He also commended Minnesota’s contributions to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. “It is not shocking that Minnesotans might be pretty good at the Winter Olympics,” he said. Minnesota sent 19 athletes to the games—the second most of any state.

Sources: President Barack Obama, Rep. Betty McCullum, D-St. Paul
Writer: Kyle Mianulli

Barely Brothers Records adds vinyl to retro shopping hub

Vinyl aficionados can look forward to flipping through a new trove of wax when Barely Brothers Records opens later this month at 783 Raymond Avenue in the Creative Enterprise Zone on the Central Corridor in Saint Paul. Barely Brothers joins such retro and vintage shops in the area as Mid Mod Men and Succotash.

The shop’s grand opening celebration is March 22. Local music acts including Minneapolis-based Eleganza, and Matt Arthur & the Bratlanders, will perform.

Co-owner Mike Elias has spent a good part of his life digging through stacks of records. After working at various record shops for a decade, he spent 13 years at the Electric Fetus in Minneapolis. When he’s not pushing vinyl, he’s often spinning it at clubs and events around town where he performs as DJ Father Time.

Along with co-owner Spencer Brook, Elias is now bringing his erudite musical tastes to bear on this new venture. With 8,000 LPs and 20,000 45s in store, Barely Brothers will offer a “deep and eclectic” catalogue of used records along with new releases, according to Elias.

“We have a pretty good Latin Boogaloo section,” Elias says, only half joking. “People don’t even know they want this stuff yet,” Brook adds.

Just talking about music and expanding customers’ horizons is a big part of the joy of owning a record store, Elias says, while fingering through a rack of albums. “Show me what you like and I’ll show you what else you’ll like,” he says.

Elias and Brook also plan to host live performances in their new space. With movable racks, the record store by day can easily become an intimate music club by night. Elias hopes to tap local DJs—many of whom he calls friends—to spin records specifically from the store’s catalogue. The owners would eventually like to host art-show openings in the space as well.

Their eclectic inventory might attract a certain collector crowd, but Elias and Brook are non-discriminating in their music tastes.  “My tastes are expansive so I really can’t discount anyone else’s…unless it’s Billy Joel,” Elias says.

Brook says they want every music fan, especially young ones, to stop by the shop and rediscover a different way of listening to music. They’re critical of today’s digital music industry, which pushes single tracks over holistic albums.

“We want people to think about the way they are listening to music, that there are better ways to do it,” Brook says. His suggestion? “Sit down and put on a record.”

Sources: Mike Elias, Spencer Brook
Writer: Kyle Mianulli

Infinite Vapor on a mission with artful e-cig shop

The fast-growing electronic cigarette trend has meant dozens of e-cig stores have been popping up around the Twin Cities. None, however, have been more artfully designed than Infinite Vapor in Uptown.

Tricia Khutoretsky, founder of the hot Public Functionary art space in Northeast Minneapolis, is curating the new shop, which currently includes a collection of screenprints from local artists such as Greg Gossel, Eric Inkala, and Adam Garcia, and a large mural by designer Mike Cina depicting wisps of vapor climbing a wall.

Longtime Twin Cities’ nightclub promoter Beecher Vaillancourt, and his friend and local mixed-martial arts fight promoter Gavin Rydell, own the shop. Anjel Vaillancourt, Beecher’s sister, is the store manager. Beecher successfully quit smoking after Rydell offered him an e-cig years ago. Anjel and the siblings’ parents also all laid down tobacco for the allegedly safer electronic option.

Beecher Vaillancourt and Rydell now have seven stores across Minnesota and North Dakota, and another starting up in Madison, Wisconsin. But the team is pouring special attention into the Uptown location, exploring how a local e-cig shop can do more than just sell supplies. They want to encourage people to quit tobacco for good, while also celebrating local community.

The store started the year with a quit-smoking campaign called “Kick It: A stop smoking movement by Infinite Vapor.” Through February, the store is also promoting a “Kick It For Love” special by offering two-for-one deals.

The shop is also working with a local organization that puts disabled veterans to work recycling e-cigarette atomizers—the piece that absorbs the liquid before it’s vaporized and inhaled.

A degree of uncertainty currently surrounds the future of e-cigarettes in Minnesota. Widespread adoption across the state has led several cities to institute limits on where people can puff on their e-cigs. A bill from DFL State Rep. Phyllis Kahn seeks to treat e-cigarettes like normal smokes under the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act.

Source: Anjel Vaillancourt
Writer: Kyle Mianulli

Roundtable: Incubator roaster for craft coffeepreneurs

As the craft beer boom and local food movement have shown, the Twin Cities has developed a palate for artisanal and locally produced fare. Shawn Person, of Moonshine Coffee Co., is now looking to expand our developing taste for specialty roast coffee. In early March, he’s opening a new storefront location in the Creative Enterprise Zone next to the Green Line in Saint Paul. Roundtable Coffee Works, he says, is a “coffee roasting manufactory.”

Inspired by craft guilds and modeled after collaborative workspaces, Roundtable Coffee Works will house an array of local businesses endeavoring to create their own unique Twin Cities’ flavors of specialty coffee. “It’s really about sharing knowledge and helping each other out—establishing that kind of community,” Person says.

It might not make financial sense for a local coffee shop to purchase and maintain personal roasting equipment. But being able to rent a roaster by the hour to make a one-of-a-kind specialty roast? That’s an opportunity Person is confident coffee entrepreneurs will jump at.

After six years in the Twin Cities’ roasting scene, Person is an industry veteran, he says. He already has several local coffeepreneurs on board and a surprising number of home roasters have approached him about utilizing the space. Due to rising interest, he also plans to have dedicated hours for hobbyists to come in and roast their own beans.

“There’s a growing awareness of specialty coffee in general,” Person says. He’s also noticing “differences in ways of selling coffee. By that I mean Starbucks, Dunn Bros., and Caribou all sell coffee a certain way, and it works. But then there’s another way to sell [it], and that’s small and local, with a neighborhood focus, as well as quality focus.”

Just as people are flocking to taprooms to taste local microbrews, so are they increasingly interested in how their morning java tastes—and is made. They want to feel connected to the process, he says. “People want to see the roaster... At Thanksgiving, they want to brew some coffee in the morning and tell their family, ‘Yeah, my buddy Shawn roasted this.’”

Roundtable will have a retail component though don’t look for tables to sit at with your laptop while you leisurely sip a breve hazelnut latte. The roaster will only offer drip coffee and espresso to go, along with beans. The Roundtable brand of coffee won’t be wholesaled either.

For Person, his start up is more about serving residents of and visitors to the neighborhood. Still, eager customers can purchase Roundtable Coffee beans, mugs, t-shirts and other gear for a limited time through an online pop-up shop and similar pop-ups he’ll schedule annually.

Source: Shawn Person
Writer: Kyle Mianulli





Sisyphus Brewery differentiates itself with comedy

Sisyphus Brewery, named for a character in Greek mythology, plans to open in Loring Park in April. The brewery will include a taproom and a 100-seat theater for live comedy, music, and podcasts about beer. The name is about keeping things fresh, with new taps and new acts every week, says co-owner Sam Harriman.

Harriman, a comedy veteran who co-owns the brewery with his wife Catherine Cuddy, are renovating the first floor of a vintage warehouse space that previously served as storage for the nearby Dunwoody College of Technology. The 7,000-square-foot space has low ceilings, exposed brick walls, and industrial floors and ceilings that “We’re not touching,” he says.  The couple is taking a “less-is-more” kind of approach to the design, with wood and metal finishes setting the tone. 

Within the taproom area, Harriman adds, “we’re creating different zones” with booths, shuffleboard, and “a lot of different hangout spots.” In some ways, the place will feel more like a coffee shop, where people can linger over a beer or take in a show. The theater’s programming will come later — after the taproom gets set up.   

The couple decided to merge the brewery with an entertainment venue to differentiate Sisyphus from other breweries. In the near future, the local brewery scene will be “super competitive, more so than it is now,” he says. “I thought entertainment and beer would go perfectly together.”

Source: Sam Harriman, co-owner, Sisyphus Brewing  
Writer: Anna Pratt  



 





Rock Star Supply Co. in chapter development with 826 National

Rock Star Supply Co.’s busy location, in the Creative Enterprise Zone at the corner of Raymond and University in Saint Paul, is about to get busier. The educational nonprofit—its dedicated volunteers tutor elementary- and secondary-school children on writing, algebra, and other subjects—is working with San Francisco-based tutoring company 826 National to bring one of that organization’s signature “stores” to the Twin Cities.

Rock Star is currently a lively tutoring workshop that offers “a range of programs, all free of charge…[that] focus on project-based learning, homework help, [and] extra-curricular reading, along with spectacular writing prompts and smaller writing workshops,” according to its website. This summer, Rock Star’s headquarters, as part of 826’s new franchise-style expansion initiative, will be rebranded as the “Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute.”

What? The name does make sense. Here’s why. In its 10-plus years, 826 National has developed a clever, family-friendly approach to branding. Each tutoring center (it currently has eight, mostly in major Northern cities) doubles as a store with an unmistakable “angle.” For instance, Boston’s “Bigfoot Research Institute” sells cryptozoology books and paraphernalia.

Chicago’s “Boring Store” doubles as a “Spy Supply Store.” (The “boring” part is meant to throw passers-by off the trail.) Seattle’s “Space Travel Supply Company” sells rocket equipment, space suits, and other accessories to “freelance space travelers.” Each store plows its merchandise earnings back into its tutoring operations. So how did the Twin Cities become home to the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute?

“We went through an extensive ideation process to arrive at Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute,” says Jeremy Wang, chair of Rock Star’s Executive Board. “We’re playing off the idea that, to most of the country, we’re a ‘fly-over’ state, hence the Mid-Continent. And while we have a lot of coastline, none of it is oceanic.” Wang’s thrilled at the prospect of opening a “sub shop” that doesn’t sell anything edible.

The expansion also comes with challenges. “Our biggest hurdle is to be financially stable enough to build out the storefront and sustain our current programming,” says Wang, noting that the organization has traditionally relied on donations from individuals and foundations. Razoo and upcoming Kickstarter campaigns are providing a crucial shot in the arm.

What can kids, parents, and shoppers expect from Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute, née Rock Star Supply Co.? “I think nearly everyone involved at Rock Star Supply Co. has been inspired by the 826 model,” says Wang. “So we don't really see our programming changing a whole lot as we transition.”

That said, Wang does expect Rock Star to add more writing workshops as the transition date approaches. And there’s the issue of merging educational programming and retail activities. “Unlike other 826 sites, we started without a storefront,” says Wang. “They mostly started their programming at the storefront, then worked their way into schools.”

For now, the folks at Rock Star are working to retain their core mission without neglecting the coming transition. For Wang and the rest of the board, this means seeking help wherever they can find it. “We are always looking for tutors in any subject, especially algebra,” he says, “as we have a whole group of students that comes in for Algebra 2 on Tuesdays.” Rock star math tutors: Take note.

Source: Jeremy Wang
Writer: Brian Martucci

Lowry Hill's Carpenter House ready for renovations

A historic mansion in Minneapolis’s Lowry Hill neighborhood,  last used as an office four years ago, could soon see inhabitants once again. Owner Jack Kistler wants to renovate the 1906-built Eugene J. Carpenter house and bring in a bed-and-breakfast, a beauty salon, and several apartment units. 

The house is significant for its Georgian-Revival style exterior, the handiwork of Edwin Hewitt, who was a well-known local architect, according to city materials. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Mina Adsit of Adsit Architecture, the firm behind the project, says the interior is well preserved, with its original panels and high ceilings intact, though the exterior needs to be restored. As such, the facade will be fixed up and repainted. The plan calls for the restoration of a previous covered porch along with an old garden space where a surface parking lot currently exists. The idea is to return the house to a residential use that’s in keeping with the neighborhood’s original character, Adsit says. 

That’ll help the owner to “tell the story of the house,” which was the first of its kind in the area. It’s also a chance to talk about the history of the Carpenter family, which had a hand in founding several arts institutions in the city around the turn-of-the-century, she says. In general, the idea is to “preserve that feeling of place that happens up there on the hill with the big houses.”   

“The whole area of the top of the hill is kind of threatened historically. These mansions are getting overwhelmed by the buildings around them,” she says. The goal is to begin construction on the house this spring and to open the place in the summer of this year, according to Adsit. 
    
Source: Mina Adsit, architect, Adsit Architecture 
Writer: Anna Pratt 

First & First purchases, is ready to reactivate, historic Franklin Theater

First & First, the creative developer of such hotspots as Icehouse, Aria, and 612 Broadway, has purchased the former Franklin Theater in Minneapolis. The historic 10,000-square-foot building, most recently owned by Franklin Art Works as a contemporary-art exhibition space, still has its original plaster movie screen and proscenia. The building also has a brick façade with a 29-foot-long stained-glass window, 35-foot-long arched entry, and second-level open-air balcony facing Franklin Avenue.

“The Franklin is a significant theater in Minneapolis history,” says Peter Remes, founder of First & First. “I’ve always loved this fascinating building, especially what’s behind the exhibition space, which people haven’t seen for decades: the spectacular old theater.” The building also has a storied history.

Originally known as the New Franklin Theater, the building was designed by Lindstrom and Almars and constructed in 1916. After serving as a neighborhood silent-movie house for 60 years, the building was gutted in 1977 and turned— under the ignominious ownership of Ferris Alexander—into a three-screen adult movie theater. After the City of Minneapolis seized the building in 1990, the Franklin was a bike shop and site for under-the-radar performances.

Franklin Art Works purchased the building in 1999. With help from the Neighborhood Revitalization Program, Franklin Art Works transformed the building into a contemporary art center. “They took a horrible mess and turned it into a well-respected art gallery that held numerous groundbreaking exhibitions by emerging artists,” Remes says.

First & First’s purchase signifies the company is moving into a new part of town and new type of building. “It is new for us,” Remes says. “We’re stretching our boundaries from where we typically focus or concentrate.”

“But the neighborhood, which is so culturally diverse, and the building, which on its own is gorgeous, are equally interesting,” he continues. “We just found the Franklin—a one-of-a-kind building waiting to be reactivated in an interesting way—to be a dynamic, unique project we’re intrigued by.”

Possible new uses for the building include an exhibition space with microbrewery, or “expanding the Aria concept here for smaller groups,” Remes says. “Because of the way the building sets up, it offers a lot of creative possibilities, which we also found compelling.”

In the next 60 days, activity will begin taking place in and around the building. “We would like to launch with unique and compelling programming that brings people from the community, and from outside of the neighborhood, into the building. We’re discussing internally how to find a balance of uses that creates that perfect harmony.”

Source: Peter Remes, First & First
Writer: Camille LeFevre

Five Watt Coffee will fill a void at 38th and Nicollet

A new coffee shop called Five Watt Coffee is in the works for 38th and Nicollet in Minneapolis. Five Watt aims to open within the next month, according to Lee Carter, who co-owns the place with Caleb Garn. The coffee shop’s name references an old record label called Five Watt Studios that Garn previously owned.

While scoping out possible locations, the pair looked all over the metro area before settling on the 1,100-square-foot space in the Kingfield neighborhood, Carter says. In terms of parking, visibility, accessibility, and construction costs, “It was the best spot by far,” he says. The space also has a full-sized basement that’s in good condition.

Initially, they’d overlooked this area of town due to nearby road construction. From what Carter can tell, some businesses didn’t outlast the road construction. “I’m just excited to re-use the corner and give the neighborhood something new,” he says. 
 
Plus, the neighborhood lacks a coffee shop. “We’re meeting the needs of the area and helping the intersection get back on its feet,” he says. “We’re really excited to have something in a familiar neighborhood for us.”   

Right now, the pair is wrapping up the build-out. Through the process, they’ve brought out some of the 1909 building’s original features, such as hardwood floors, an exposed brick wall, and a tin ceiling. “When we came in, there was drywall everywhere and a dropped ceiling,” he says. 

A garage door and new windows will help update the space, as well. Although they’re going for a modern aesthetic, “We don’t want to do something that’s sterile,” he says, but rather create a warm and inviting ambiance.  


Source: Lee Carter, co-owner, Five Watt Coffee
Writer: Anna Pratt 



Victoria Theater to become a cultural center, once again

Several years ago, Saint Paul’s historic Victoria Theater was nearly demolished. Now, after sitting vacant for 14 years, the place is getting a new lease on life. The Twin Cities Community Land Bank is closing on the purchase of the theater, according to Tyler Olson, the project coordinator. Olson is working with the volunteer-driven Victoria Theater Arts Initiative (VTAI), which will take over the building’s ownership in the future. 

Basically, the land bank is “holding” the property for the group. “The fear was that we would do the work upfront and the owner [of the theater] would get an offer that couldn’t be refused” from someone else, Olson says. 

A kickoff event, which includes building tours, begins at 2:30 p.m., Thursday, January 16.

VTAI, which began meeting a year ago, is comprised of representatives from various local organizations including the Frogtown Neighborhood Association, the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent, Historic Saint Paul, Dangerous Productions, and the New Victoria Theater Project. “We started saying, ‘Let’s make something happen here. It feels like now is the time, especially with the light rail coming,’” he says.   

That kind of grassroots effort is typical in Frogtown, where a "trend of organic growth" has taken hold, he says, citing the development of the nearby Frogtown Farms. 

Together, the consortium “intends to revitalize the building, transforming it into a community-owned and -managed center for arts engagement, education and performance,” a prepared statement reads. Irrigate, Springboard for the Arts, and the City of Saint Paul helped to make the project happen.   

What are the next steps? As it is, the building is a shell that needs to be renovated. “We really need to figure out all of the things that need to happen to make it workable and usable,” he says. The group is also “getting out into the community,” to find out what people are interested in seeing happen at the theater, he says. “People are excited about its potential.”
 
The theater will be “a huge boon to the community, a landmark destination,” he says. “The hope is that people will come to see something here they wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else in the Twin Cities."  


Source: Tyler Olsen, project coordinator, Victoria Theater Arts Initiative 
Writer: Anna Pratt 

Peavey Plaza: A big win for preservationists

Last year, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM), together with The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF), went to court to save Peavey Plaza, a historic landmark in downtown Minneapolis.

The City of Minneapolis had decided to scrap the aging plaza and build anew on the site. After suing the City to keep the place intact, PAM and TCLF came to a settlement agreement this past summer. The agreement stipulates that the plaza will be rehabbed. Recently, the National Trust for Historic Preservation called the Peavey outcome preservation's biggest win in 2013. 

Erin Hanafin Berg, a field representative for PAM, says she’s encouraged by the shout-out. “The fight to preserve Peavey put an enormous strain on our resources, so it is nice to be acknowledged for our efforts,” she says. 
  
The 1975-built modernist plaza was designed by M. Paul Friedberg + Partners. During the court proceedings, the preservation groups lined up historic designation for the plaza. “Often referred to by Friedberg as a 'park plaza,' this two-acre space is also described by him as 'a mixture of the American green space and the European hard space,'” the TCLF’s website reads.  

What’s next for the plaza? The alliance is working with partners, including TCLF, Preserve Minneapolis, Docomomo US MN, and the Minnesota chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, “to develop a strategy to lead a preservation solution,” Berg says. 

If the plaza is going to be successfully rehabilitated, she says, “Those of us who are interested in its preservation will have to marshal our resources and present both design and funding solutions."

The plaza needs a committed programming entity along with infrastructure and accessibility improvements, Berg says. “We’re inspired by the recent revitalization of Pittsburgh’s Mellon Square.”

Peavey is significant architecturally and historically. “We also think it is a really wonderful and unique public space that can and should be revived,” she says. “We like to think of it as everybody’s sunken living room — a place where a variety of year-round activities can take place for individuals, small groups, and crowds of people.”  

 
Source: Erin Hanafin Berg, field representative, Preservation Alliance of Minnesota 
Writer: Anna Pratt 







Sociable Cider Werks joins craft beer scene

For the owners of Sociable Cider Werks, a cider house and brewery in Northeast Minneapolis, it made sense to establish the business in an area characterized by a robust beer scene. Jim Watkins, who co-owns the cidery with Wade Thompson, also happens to live nearby.       

Sociable Cider Werks provides new inroads into the craft-beer movement by producing hard cider. “We can participate in the movement but do our own thing at the same time,” Watkins says. Sociable’s ciders, he adds, are for “people who have a palate for craft beer."   

Unlike the typical macro-cider house that produces sweet, middle-of-the-road-tasting ciders, Sociable is going for a bitter flavor, and mixes hops and grains into its concoctions. “We think ciders are supposed to be dry. They’re supposed to be bitter and torched. It’s a good representation of the apple,” Watkins says. 

The co-owners leased the cider house’s vintage industrial building just over a year ago.The place was a fixer-upper that gave the impression of a “junky warehouse” at the time. To make way for Sociable, the space was completely gutted and redone. Now, the cider house “has a cool aesthetic, with a lot of exposed brick and wood,” Watkins says.  

The 6,000-square-foot space is long and narrow, while the interior is open, giving visitors a feel for the whole operation, he says.  Already, the renovation has had a positive impact on the block. “I’ve heard from neighbors that they love having us here.”

Even though the taproom has only been open for a little over a month, the place already has regulars, which is a testament to the friendly beer community, hence the “Sociable” in Sociable Cider Werks, Watkins says. In “the craft beer scene in Minneapolis," he says, "everyone is willing to help each other.”
 
That generosity extends to the patronage, as many visitors go from one taproom to the next. “Northeast is a brewpub destination. It’s like Minnesota’s own little Fort Collins, Colorado," he says. "There’s a high percentage of breweries in a short distance and it’s walkable.”   


Source: Jim Watkins, Sociable Cider Werks
Writer: Anna Pratt 

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