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Warehouse/North Loop : Development News

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Minneapolis' C-TAP: Free Assistance for Co-Op Founders

The City of Minneapolis is launching a free technical assistance program for budding co-op founders, starting with a two-hour presentation on April 20th.
Dubbed C-TAP (Cooperative Technical Assistance Program), the initiative is an outgrowth of the city’s successful B-TAP (Business Technical Assistance Program) for aspiring small and midsize business owners. Like B-TAP, C-TAP is an immersive program designed to support co-op founders and supporters from ideation through opening—and, in some cases, beyond.
According to the City of Minneapolis, C-TAP will unfold over three years, in three steps.
Step one, happening this year, focuses on “co-op readiness planning” for “groups that are thinking of forming a Co-op…to get a clear picture of the legal, operational and organizational requirements.” It’s basically a crash course in what it means to start a co-op.
Step two, set for next year, will focus on “board member and organizational design.” That means training prospective board members in the basics (and nuances) of co-op governance, as well as “one-on-one technical assistance” for select co-ops that require guidance designing their organizational structures. Step two is available to not-yet-open co-ops and existing co-ops that want or need outside assistance.
Step three, set for 2018, will revolve around “sustainability [and] profitability.” In other words, setting and keeping newly opened co-ops on the path to stable, long-term profitability and prosperity.
C-TAP’s kickoff event, a two-hour presentation dubbed “The State of Co-ops in Minneapolis,” is scheduled for April 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Open Book in Downtown East. The presentation will discuss the city’s current “co-op inventory” and the industries supported by Minneapolis co-ops, introduce and explain C-TAP, and discuss next steps for co-op founders and principals interested in participating.
On May 11, Step one officially gets underway with an eight-week “co-op feasibility” course. Held at the City of Minneapolis Innovation Center in the Crown Roller Mill Building near City Hall, the course’s eight sessions will cover the basics of the co-op development process, co-op business plans, finances, cooperative governance, legalities and other topics. Registration is free and open to the public, but prospective co-op groups need to have at least two participants and have selected a product or service to offer prior to signing up.
The City of Minneapolis is no stranger to co-op support. According to city government, Minneapolis has plowed some $3.5 million into local co-ops through existing development and support initiatives, and has an additional $850,000 outstanding in loans to three in-development co-ops—including Wirth Cooperative Grocery, a first-of-its-kind grocery co-op in the city’s underserved Northside, slated to open later this year.

North Loop's lumbersexual vibe gets boost with conversion of Jackson Building into Hewing Hotel

After months, even years, of speculation, the historic Jackson Building in Minneapolis’ North Loop, most recently home to the IPR (Institute of Production and Recording) College of Creative Arts, is slated to become a boutique hotel. “The neighborhood is spectacular,” says Tim Dixon, owner of Fe Equus Development, LLC, which is taking on the project. “It’s rocking. Empty nesters are moving back to the city. Millennials are embracing the area. The food scene is spectacular. We’ll add value to the neighborhood with an experiential hotel that will bring in the locals.”
Based in Milwaukee, Fe Equus is best known for transforming a 200-year-old downtown building into the Iron Horse Hotel. “The Iron Horse Hotel fulfilled the growing demand for experiential hotels and the need for additional rooms generated by its neighbor, the Harley-Davidson Museum,” according to the Fe Equus website. “Unlike any modern luxury hotel today, this brand new concept pairs high-end accommodations with special amenities for motorcycle enthusiasts.”
The Jackson Building will be renamed the Hewing Hotel, in a nod to the area’s milling history, which began with lumber. To “hew” is to cut or to fell. Think axe to tree. Which will fit right in with the area’s growing lumbersexual vibe apparent at Marvel Bar, Spoon and Stable, and Askov Finlayson.
In the late 1880s, many Minnesota trees were hewed to create the sturdy timber frame of the Jackson Building, which also has exposed brick walls and wood floors. Built on spec by Henry George Andrews (in collaboration with John Pillsbury, Thomas Andrews and Woodbury Fisk, Dixon says, the building initially had two floors. But as the area boomed, ceilings were ripped off and floors added. An addition was made to the building, as well.
“We thought about calling it the Convolution Hotel,” Dixon says, with a laugh, “because of the build out. On nearly every floor, it’s clear they took the roof off and put new floors down, over and over again. In the basement, which has really high ceilings, they used to pull a train in.” In previous lives, the building functioned as farm implement showroom and a warehouse.
The Aparium Hotel Group of Chicago will work with Fe Equus on the building’s conversion into a 120-room hotel with a restaurant and bar. “We start with the history and the building, then investigate the neighborhood and the city,” Dixon says, “to create food and beverage services that embrace the community and attract the locals. As we’ve proved with other projects, once you bring in the locals you become part of the fabric of the community.”
Dixon is currently living in North Loop, were he’s soaking up the ambience 24/7 in preparation for the historic building’s redesign. “It’s no fun going into the middle of a cornfield and coming up with something creative and beautiful,” he says. “It’s more satisfying, and you’re forced to be creative, when working within the barriers presented to you, from structure and materials to existing urban neighborhood. Our team at every level — operationally, design, food and beverage — will integrate it all to ensure the Hewing Hotel experience is consistent and unique.”  

Spyhouse West opening in the North Loop

Spyhouse Coffee Roasters will open its fourth cafe in a portion of the 3,900-square-foot, ground floor commercial space in Brunsfield North Loop on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis. Dubbed Spyhouse West, with an expected opening in June, the coffee shop, “will have a very different aesthetic and charm, but will still have those same Spyhouse elements and character that have been a defining standard for us,” says Christian Johnson, Spyhouse owner and director of operations.
Johnson adds that he’d been looking for a location in the Warehouse District for more than a decade, until the apartment complex was completed last year. “Brunsfield aligns with our overall mission in that its minimalistic design and location, and the demographics of the immediate area, seem a perfect fit for us,” he says. The project, designed by Snow Kreilich Architects, earned an AIA Honor Award for architectural excellence in 2014.
The location is also far enough away from such other indie cafes as Moose and Sadies, Johnson continues. “I spent a lot of time at M&S in college in the 90's, so I am quite fond of those memories from back then,” he explains. This fourth location for Spyhouse (which started in 2000 with a coffeehouse in Whittier, then added another on Hennepin Avenue in Uptown in 2008 and in the 612 Broadway building in Northeast Minneapolis in 2013) “will bring an attention to the craft of coffee and design characteristics that are congruent with the lifestyle of the neighborhood,” he says.
Adds Vincent Lim, president and general manager of Brunsfield America, Inc., “One key criterion [for a potential retail tenant] was that the user must share our vision for the space — to be an amenity to our residents and our community.” In addition, he continues, “our research on Spyhouse revealed the very passionate and committed entrepreneurs behind the business.”
As for being an entrepreneur who has “worked 80 hours a week for the last 15 years,” Johnson says, “it is important for me to grow a brand not out of ego, but out of what feels right…. and to know when to slow down. I have so many ideas for restaurants and cafes that I have to be careful the design wheels in my head don’t accelerate too quickly.”
He doesn’t, however, have any plans to move out of state, much less out of Minneapolis. “We like to have cohesion and proximity within our stores to ensure consistency, quality and ease for the staff, and myself, to commute to,” says Johnson, who owns a home between two of Spyhouse’s locations.

Twin Cities architecture firms receive AIA Honor Awards

What do an airy and daylit community library, a renewed college studio-arts building, a sustainably designed and modern apartment structure, and a renovated historic performing-arts center have in common? All of these Twin Cities projects were recently selected for a 2014 Honor Award during the 80th annual AIA Minnesota Annual Convention and Exhibition.
A panel of jurors from outside the state selected eight projects for Honor Awards from 73 submissions. Four of the awards were for projects in the Twin Cities: Hennepin County Walker Library designed by VJAA, Minneapolis; Brunsfield North Loop Apartments designed by Snow Kreilich Architects, Minneapolis; the renovation of Northrop, a historic performing-arts and innovation center on the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis campus by HGA Architects and Engineers, Minneapolis; and, also by HGA, Phase II of the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, the Studio Art renovation and expansion, at Macalester College in St. Paul.
Each of those Twin Cities architecture firms also won for additional projects located outside of Minneapolis-St. Paul. HGA was awarded for the Marlboro Music Cottages at the Marlboro Music School and Festival in Vermont. VJAA won for its Welland International Flatwater Centre, Toronto 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto; and Snow Kreilich received accolades for a home on Lake Minnetonka. In addition, Leo A Daly, Minneapolis, received an Honor Award for the design of The Toro Company’s headquarters in Bloomington.
The AIA Honor Awards have five categories: architecture, interiors, restoration and renovation, urban design and master planning, and small projects. This year's awards were selected by a panel of jurors from outside the state: Angela Brooks, FAIA, Principal, Brooks + Scarpa, Los Angeles; Mary-Jean Eastman, FAIA, Principal & Executive Director, Perkins Eastman, New York; and Dan Rockhill, J.L. Constant Distinguished Professor of Architecture, University of Kansas, and Executive Director, Studio 804.
According to an AIA Minnesota press release, the jurors’ selection of this year's Honor Awards offers “a real snapshot of the meaning of architecture today.” The awards will be presented to recipients on Friday, December 5, at the 2014 Awards Celebration at International Market Square in Minneapolis. The celebration will also showcase AIA Minnesota’s 2014 Gold Medal recipient Julie Snow, FAIA, Snow Kreilich Architects.

LOT-EK proposes North Loop project using shipping containers

A proposed mixed-use development in Minneapolis could bring new meaning to the phrase “green building.” The 16,500-square-foot rhomboidal-shaped structure would be made of 60 identical 40-foot up-cycled shipping containers. The containers are painted green.

Planned for the North Loop neighborhood, the building at 506 4th Street North is being designed by New York-based architectural and design firm LOT-EK, with input from Snow Kreilich Architects in Minneapolis.

LOT-EK is widely known for using shipping containers and other up-cycled objects—like truck bodies and airplane fuselage—in architectural projects all over the world.

The North Loop structure would be erected diagonally on the corner lot where 5th Avenue North meets 4th Avenue North, leaving a surplus of green space on either side, according to a project description submitted to the city.

“The site, with its special corner condition…offers the opportunity for the building to establish a significant presence and to create a meaningful public space in this rapidly changing area,” the plan says.

In addition to the large lawn space, plans show a partially covered open-air public plaza in the center of the donut-shaped structure that would house a restaurant, clothing store and other retail.

Local marketing firm Akquracy, which is behind the project, would be housed on the top levels of the three-story building, as would a smaller suite of shared small-business “incubator” spaces.

Half of the uniquely shaped building would sit atop an existing parking garage. Given the underground wetland condition of the site, measures will be taken to minimize “foundation piling,” according to the plan.

A number of sustainable features would also be considered in the design, including solar energy options, LED light fixtures and automatic lighting control systems.

The plan was discussed at the Minneapolis Planning Commission Committee of the Whole in March. Senior City Planner Janelle Widmeier said committee was intrigued by the plan and didn’t have major initial concerns. The developers have not submitted a Land Use Application for commission to review yet.

Akquracy founder Scott Petinga said feasibility studies are underway for the project. “We are waiting to see the feasibility and how it is priced-out,” he said.

Petinga also told the Star Tribune in March that building with shipping containers can make securing financing for a project like this a challenge—something that caused a similar plan for the building to fall through after it had been approved by the Planning Commission in 2013.

“It’s almost impossible to get funding to build something that’s not status quo,” he told the paper.


Filson + Shinola moving to North Loop

A pair of high end American manufacturing retailers are moving into the North Loop in Minneapolis later this spring. Seattle based Filson, known for its rugged outdoor gear and apparel will be sharing a storefront with Shinola, a company out of Detroit gaining recognition for its handcrafted watches, bicycles and leather goods.

“Shinola and Filson are like-minded brands that…share many of the same core values,” said Daniel Caudill, creative director at Shinola. “It was a natural fit for both brands to share the same space.”

The Washington Avenue site was previously occupied by Dunn Bros., which recently moved to a new location down the street where it expanded offerings to include beer and wine, as well as baked goods.

Filson and Shinola are part of a family of American brands under the Bedrock Manufacturing umbrella—a venture capital firm in Texas headed by the founder of Fossil Inc.

Filson, which currently has six other brick and mortar locations around the country, is looking to tap in to Minnesotan’s passion for outdoor sportd.  “Filson and Minnesota share an everlasting enthusiasm for enjoying the outdoors, which makes it the perfect location as we look to connect with more outdoor enthusiasts,” said Alan Kirk, Filson’s CEO.

The North Loop is quickly becoming one of the Twin Cities hottest districts. With a growing number of medium- to high-end restaurants, bars and retailers moving into the neighborhood, as well as new condo and apartment buildings, it’s no surprise Forbes ranked it the 12th hippest neighborhood in the country.

Filson and Shinola will be joining a growing number of men’s boutique stores like MidNorth Mercantile, Askov Finlayson, Martin Patrick 3 and even other specialty bike shops like Handsome Cycles up the street.

Both retailers say they are looking forward to tapping into the thriving community of like-minded shops in the area and look forward to finding ways to collaborate and connect.

“We are looking at all types of local companies small and large to create products we will sell in our stores,” Caudill said. Shinola is already working with Faribault Woolen Mill Co. to produce custom Shinola blankets.

Kirk says Filson also plans to engage the local community of outdoor professionals through a series of unique events and experiences. “Minnesota is home to a number of great outfitters, and we look forward to sharing the experience and passion for outdoor adventures with our customers,” he said.

Shinola has other Minnesota ties, as well. Former CEO of St. Paul-based leather company J.W. Hulme Co., Jen Guarino, is leading Shinola’s leather department, which just opened a new facility in Detroit. She also set up the company’s in-house leather design and development team late last year, allowing Shinola to house design and production under one roof.

Shinola has garnered a good deal of attention lately for its commitment to revitalizing the downtrodden manufacturing sector in Detroit. Its headquarters and watch factory are located in the College for Creative Studies in the former Argonaut building, which once housed General Motors’ research laboratory.


Youthlink fills a void with public art

Youthlink, a nonprofit organization that provides services to homeless youth, is installing an original sculpture outside of its drop-in center in Minneapolis’s North Loop neighborhood.

The organization's Youth Opportunity Center is planning an official unveiling for the sculpture this summer, while the basic installation process will wrap up later this month, according to Francis Roen, director of development for YouthLink.

Youthlink worked with a partner at the center, the Kulture Klub Collaborative, a nonprofit organization that engages homeless youth through art, to come up with the piece. The sculpture is a creative solution to the center’s lack of “a visual marking for the space,” which is somewhat tucked away from view, she says.

Considering the fact that the center tries to help youth navigate various resources, “We were missing a key piece of that, as navigators, if we didn’t have a clear marking for this building,” she says.  

The resulting piece from local artist Randy Walker, titled “Filling the Void,” is a permanent steel frame that allows for constant change. Like many other artworks at the center, the piece was “created hand-in-hand with young people,” she says. Youth at the center and other local artists will continue to put their stamp on it through time. The frame allows for everything from video projection to living vegetation, according to center materials.  

In a prepared statement, Walker adds that the piece is symbolic in that “It provides a foundation, framework and opportunity for those who use it. It is full of potential. It is all about what you do with it.”

Ultimately, Roen hopes the piece conveys that the center is “youth-friendly and a place they can go to receive help.”  

Source: Frances Roen, director of development, Youthlink
Writer: Anna Pratt

Tangiers restaurant plans to open in North Loop

The Tangiers, an upscale eatery coming to Minneapolis’s North Loop neighborhood, is going for a look “reminiscent of entering a great room in an elegant vintage mansion,” its website reads.  

To set the scene, the 152-seat restaurant, which is going into 116 1st Ave. N., will have richly colored plush sofas and chairs and the “warm and inviting light” of chandeliers. “It is a venue in which the mature and sophisticated crowd can settle into an environment that speaks to them,” the website goes on to say. As in the nearby Marvel Bar, the restaurant’s lounge will feature fanciful custom drinks, along with artisan cuisine.

In a story from The Journal, Tangiers owner Behnad Taheri says that the restaurant’s name relates to a fictional hotel in the movie, “Casino.”

David Frank, who leads the North Loop neighborhood group, says that many community members are supportive of the restaurant’s plans. To begin with, “The owner of Tangiers came to our Planning & Zoning committee several times, and the board wrote a letter of support for the liquor license,” he says.

“We like seeing active uses where those have not been before,” Frank says, adding that the space has been vacant for some time. In general, the neighborhood group is “glad to see more restaurant uses to complement our growing residential population,” he says. This is a win-win on a couple of different levels: “It's great to see restaurants filling in the neighborhood, and we like that more people will be coming to the North Loop to eat there.”

Source: David Frank, North Loop neighborhood group
Writer: Anna Pratt

An iconic water tower gets projected imagery from students

An iconic water tower on the rooftop of the building housing the Carmichael Lynch advertising agency in Minneapolis's North Loop neighborhood has become a canvas for public art.

A few years ago, the agency decided to take advantage of the century-old water tower, which was no longer in use, according to Maria Hileman, a spokesperson for Carmichael Lynch.

Designers at the agency came up with the idea of projecting imagery onto the water tower, which took on the nickname Rusty. From there, the "mapping projections" continued to loop around the tower on an ongoing basis.

This year, the agency wanted to expand on the project by collaborating with the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). Sandy Boss Febbo, the project’s art producer, says, “We thought it would be a good way for students to showcase their work.” Figuring out how to design something that translates to the tower is also technically challenging, she says.

The agency ran a contest, which drew 40 entries from various departments at the school. When it came time for judging those entries, it wasn’t an easy call choosing a winner and 16 finalists, she says.

The winning design, from Josh Olson, riffs on the tower’s original projection, which featured a line drawing with eyes, a smile, and other expressive features. In Olson’s 45-second video, a more realistic-looking face peers around, all the while displaying a wide range of emotions. “It’s fun to see the evolution of the idea. The student timed it perfectly to the line illustration,” says Febbo.

Olson's design and those of the finalists will get some play on the water tower, she adds.

From Target Field, people in the stands get a good view of the tower. That's why the agency pushed to get the project done in time for the Twins opener on Monday, but the projections will be easier to spot during the evening games next week, “People will be able to see those loud and clear,” she says. Going forward, “We’re hoping to open it up to other artists outside of MCAD and to use it as a public art space." 

The agency is looking forward to working with the school again, Febbo says. “It was a lot of fun. It really reminds you what a dynamic community this is.”

Check out a video of the project here.

Sources: Maria Hileman, Sandy Boss Febbo, Carmichael Lynch
Writer: Anna Pratt

Veronique Wantz Gallery settles in North Loop

Veronique Wantz, a French-born veteran of the art business who studied art history at the Ecole du Louvre and worked as a curator and antiques dealer in Paris for a decade and as an art consultant and gallery director here for fourteen years, recently decided it was time to start an art gallery of her own.

As she was scouting out possible locations, it seemed serendipitous when an 855-square-foot space in a vintage brick building in Minneapolis’s North Loop neighborhood opened up. Wantz jumped at it, opening the Veronique Wantz Gallery on Jan. 15.

The gallery focuses on work from emerging and well-known national and international artists whose work hasn’t been seen in the Twin Cities before.

This includes a range of artists working in different mediums and styles. “I want it to be fresh and different from what you can find in other places,” she says.  

Wantz plans to do six or seven shows a year, including a mix of solo and group exhibits, depending on how large an artist’s body of work is. “My idea is to establish relationships with fewer artists. It’s more about quality than quantity,” she says, adding, “I want to commit to artists and give visibility.”   

Previously, the space had been used as a shipping area for a software company. Although the space needed “a vision for what it could become,” she made mainly cosmetic changes. For example, she upgraded the lighting, cleaned up the floors and put a fresh coat of paint on the walls.

Already, the space had plenty of character, with exposed brick, hardwood floors, and high ceilings and old wooden beams, she says. Behind some boards that she removed, she found beautiful original windows intact. “I wanted the same integrity, to keep it the way it is,” just with added polish, she says. “It was really interesting to see how things fell into place.”  

More broadly, she’s glad to be situated in North Loop, which she calls the little SoHo of Minneapolis, with all kinds of upscale and up-and-coming restaurants, retail shops and galleries. “I think it fits the neighborhood really well. I am very optimistic about it,” she says.
Source: Veronique Wantz, gallery owner
Writer: Anna Pratt

Handsome Cycles to open retail space alongside One on One bicycle shop

Handsome Cycles, a Minneapolis-based bicycle manufacturer founded in 2008, has long had a national presence, with merchandise in 53 retail stores throughout the country.

The online business found its first dealers in the city, with One on One Bicycle Studio and Go Coffee and The Alt bicycle shop, according to Handsome co-owner, Jesse Erickson.

At the same time, “We always wanted a retail space” close to home, so when the storefront space beside One on One opened up, Erickson and his partner, Ben Morrison, jumped at it.

“We saw the opportunity to partner with someone who knows cycling culture and what’s needed on the clothing side,” Erickson says.  

Previously, a music store occupied the space.

Erickson and Morrison tore down a wall between the two spaces, both of which are roughly 2,500 square feet, so that customers can go back and forth freely between the shops. “Our side will be more of a lifestyle store in the front half,” while the back area will serve as a showroom and build studio for Handsome’s custom-built bikes.

Beyond that, the Handsome space required little buildout, he says.

In terms of aesthetics, the space boasts exposed brick, hardwood floors, and wide open spaces.

He and Morrison are creating a modular setup that can be rearranged for different purposes. All in all, the place will have an industrial look “that’s raw and clean.” To achieve that, “We’re using a lot of reclaimed stuff,” especially wood from demolished barns and abandoned buildings, while metal piping runs throughout, he says.

Handsome will collaborate with One on One in hosting art shows, film festivals, and other events. “One on One has done a good job,” on this front, he says, adding, “It’s not just a bike retail store. It’s also a destination for the cycling culture.”

The store plans to open in March.

Source: Jesse Erickson, co-owner, Handsome Cycles
Writer: Anna Pratt 

'Playing the Building' takes advantage of vintage Aria building

Aria, a special event space in downtown Minneapolis’s Warehouse District, has opened its doors to a creative sound installation called “Playing the Building,” from rocker David Byrne.

“Playing the Building,” which runs through Dec. 4 at Aria, has also exhibited in New York City, Stockholm, and London.

The show's title literally references how “The infrastructure, the physical plant of the building, is converted into a giant musical instrument,” according to the project website.

To make that happen, various pieces of equipment have been fixed to metal beams, pillars, and pipes to create sound. “The devices do not produce sound themselves, but they cause the building elements to vibrate, resonate and oscillate,” the website reads. 

This is the first artistic program open to the public to take place at Aria, which took over the old Theatre de la Jeune Lune space nearly a year ago, according to Michelle Klein, a spokesperson for the venue.  

“That’s part of the vision for the building,” she says. “The idea is to make it not just a private event center, but a public event destination.”

Considering that the vintage building was once the site of award-winning theatrical productions, “It would be a shame to close the doors and only open it to those who’ve booked the space,” she says.

More broadly, the idea of scheduling community-oriented arts programming in the space speaks to the vision of First and First, the site's development company, headed by Peter Remes.

The idea is about “being much more engaged in a robust way with the neighborhood,” she says. “We want to be a good neighbor, going far beyond sweeping the sidewalks.”  

Source: Michelle Klein, spokesperson, Aria
Writer: Anna Pratt

Fitgers Brewhouse planning sister location in North Loop neighborhood

Soon, the well-known Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth may have a sister location in Minneapolis.

The nearly 20-year-old brewhouse’s co-owners, Rod Raymond and Tim Nelson, plan to bring the business to the space that the Trocaderos night club previously occupied in the downtown North Loop neighborhood, according to the Star Tribune.

The partners hope to make it a neighborhood hangout, according to the story.

“Raymond said to expect to see a 'warehouse/industrial' look replace the blandly suburban remnants of Trocaderos,” including outdoor and rooftop seating, the story states.

However, the place will take advantage of at least one prominent Trocaderos leftover: The brewery will be built around the stage, which is still intact, and live music will be scheduled at the venue, which will be re-imagined as a beer hall, the story explains.  

Also, the 1892 building’s historic ties to macaroni and the Creamette company name will be factored into the menu.  

Joanne Kaufman, who leads the Warehouse District Business Association, says that the reaction from the area’s business community to the brewhouse’s plans has been largely positive.

For one thing, “The Trocaderos space has been empty for quite some time,” she says. “We’re thrilled to see something go in there.”  

It helps that “We all know Fitger’s,” she says. “It’ll be fun to have a local outpost in the area.”

The brewhouse is a destination in Duluth, a traditon she says that she expects to carry on in the Warehouse District.

It’ll bring more foot traffic to the area, which helps other businesses, too. “I think it’ll be a great addition to the neighborhood.”

Source: Joanne Kaufman, Warehouse District Business Association
Writer: Anna Pratt

Smack Shack food truck adds North Loop bricks and mortar

The Smack Shack food truck, which specializes in New Orleans-style “po’ boy” seafood sandwiches, is adding a permanent space in downtown Minneapolis’s North Loop neighborhood.

It’s going into the one-story brick building that previously housed Holden Graphics Service, according to Josh Thoma, who co-owns the restaurant along with his business partner, Kevin Fitzgerald.

As far as he knows, it’s the first food truck in the Twin Cities to open a restaurant. “For a lot of people starting food trucks, that’s the goal,” he says.

Starting out with a food truck is a good testing ground, according to Thoma. With a permanent space, “Obviously there’s a lot more build-out and overhead with it.”

The restaurant will have a relaxed, coastal feel, he says.

“Picture a cottage or a cabin on Cape Cod,” he says, adding that the place will feature a lot of whitewashed reclaimed wood.

Among the building’s unique architectural features are “gorgeous wooden trusses” that support the roof, 26-foot ceilings, and exposed brick walls, he says.  

In the past, farm equipment got loaded through the large sliding train doors in the one-story building, according to Thoma, who adds that the doors will soon open onto a 60-seat patio. Even in the 115-seat dining room, “It’ll have an open-air feel,” he says.  

A lobster boiler will be a prominent design feature, along with a bar that lets patrons see food being prepared.

Lobsters will be kept in green fiberglass fish tanks, like those that can be found in a typical coastal eatery or a local bait shop.   

The Smack Shack will also continue its relationship with the 1029 Bar in Northeast Minneapolis. The bar is screening the April 9 episode of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” which features the restaurant.

About its new digs, which will be ready in late June, Thoma says, “I think it’ll have an impact on the Twin Cities."

Writer: Anna Pratt
Source: Josh Thoma, co-owner, Smack Shack

$10 million apartment building proposed to replace blighted gas station in North Loop

Michael Development of Lilydale is proposing a $10 million apartment building to go into downtown Minneapolis’s North Loop neighborhood.

The development would replace a long-vacant, boarded-up gas station near Target Field, according to Michael Development head Mike Swenson.  

It would include around 70 apartments spread throughout four levels, along with 5,000 square feet of ground-level commercial space, which could house up to three tenants, he says. Below that would be one story of underground parking. 

Under the current plan, the building would also include a rooftop patio, party room, and exercise facility. But “the biggest amenity is the Twins stadium across the street,” he says.

“It’ll be an improvement from the old building there,” Swenson says, adding, “It should be the first building down in that area and should start more development.”

In a Finance and Commerce story, Fritz Kroll, who leads the North Loop Neighborhood Association’s livability committee, praises the project, in part for its location, which he says is an up-and-coming area.

“I think that has a lot to do with [the renovation of] Ford Center and the transit station coming online. I think that’s a huge sign,” Kroll says in the story, adding, “I think it’s wonderful that someone’s jumping over there.”

Finance and Commerce reports that the project is part of a development boom in the neighborhood: over 1,200 apartment units are under construction or in planning stages for the North Loop, it states.

Right now, the company is preparing for a related presentation to the city, Swenson says.

Although the proposal is still in early stages, the company has received lots of positive feedback, he adds.

Source: Mike Swenson, Michael Development
Writer: Anna Pratt
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