Closer look at plans for Pillsbury A Mill site

  • Updated: March 2, 2012 - 11:47 PM

The developer says housing plans are nearing the end of the lengthy approval process for the historic site.

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Rendering of the planned Pillsbury A Mill apartment's western entrance

A Twin Cities-based developer is in the final stages of planning the $100 million conversion of the historic Pillsbury A Mill complex, which is expected to offer affordable housing for artists.

Owen Metz, senior development associate for Plymouth-based Dominium Inc., said Friday that the company is nearing the end of a lengthy approval process. Next week the Minneapolis City Council's Ways and Means Committee will review the project, before another hearing with the Historic Preservation Commission.

Dominium is also putting together a complicated financing package that includes historic tax credits and tax-increment financing for work on the complex. Metz said he hopes to close on the purchase of the property in May and start construction this fall.

"It's going to be an amazing project," he said.

Though nearly 10,000 new apartments have been planned for the Twin Cities, perhaps none of the projects is as anticipated -- or as complicated -- as the A Mill development. The buildings, which overlook the Mississippi River and have sweeping views of the downtown Minneapolis skyline, have multiple layers of historic protection. Earlier this year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation said the complex was one of America's 11 most endangered historic places.

An earlier plan by another developer called for converting the existing buildings into luxury condominiums and building new condos. The project never got off the ground and the A Mill complex went into foreclosure.

Because of that historic designation, few changes can be made to the exterior of the building; renderings released Thursday show few changes to the facade, but major changes to courtyards that connect several buildings.

Metz said that while the apartments will be geared toward artists who must comply with income restrictions, the buildings will include high-end finishes and common spaces that will encourage residents to work together.

Other details:

•Rents will range from $800 to $1,250 per month.

•There will be mostly one- and two-bedroom apartments, but some studio and three-bedroom units.

•A sunken garden visible from public spaces will be built where there was once a train transfer station.

Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376

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