The company that recently transformed the Pillsbury A Mill in Minneapolis and the Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul into rentals for artists is about to tackle one of its biggest projects yet.
Plymouth-based Dominium recently paid $5.2 million for a sprawling industrial site in St. Paul’s St. Anthony Park neighborhood, where it plans to build 600 to 700 market-rate and income-restricted apartments. The project is in its infancy and renderings haven’t yet been created, but the company hopes to break ground early next year.
“We’re really excited about the acquisition and our presence in that particular market,” said Neal Route, development associate at Dominium.
The 13.3-acre site is next to 808 Berry Place, a mixed-income rental property that Dominium completed in 2004. The success of that project, which is about one-third the size of what it’s now proposing, helped persuade the company to start pursuing purchase of the site several years ago.
Route said that the design and materials of the newest project will complement the brick and cement-board siding that was used to build 808 Berry Place, and that the company’s experience developing that project helped it stand out among several bidders.
“We enjoyed a competitive sales process for the site and are excited to see it utilized to its highest and best use in the near future,” said David Stokes, senior director of Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq, which represented the seller.
Weyerhaeuser owned the property and operated a wholesale lumberyard there for about a century. Five warehouses will be torn down to make room for apartments, which will likely be built in several low-rise buildings in at least three phases over the next two to five years.
Route said the unit mix will include affordable housing for seniors, workforce housing and luxury rentals. Rents for those affordable units will be based on 60 percent of the area’s median income.
The site is the northwest quadrant of Interstate 94 and Highway 280 about two blocks from the Westgate light rail station. It’s in the midst of what was once a sprawling industrial area crisscrossed by railroad tracks and thoroughfares that gave trains and freight trucks easy access.
Convenient to U campuses
Nearly equidistant between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, the area is convenient to both campuses of the University of Minnesota and to major employers in both cities. There’s also been considerable commercial development in the area, including a Sunrise Bank that’s under construction and a new mixed-use apartment project that will have a Fresh Thyme grocery store.
During the past couple of years, Dominium tackled a couple of particularly challenging and expensive rehab projects using federal historic tax credits to convert the aging A Mill building along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis and the brewery in St. Paul’s West 7th neighborhood into living and working space. Each has about 200 units.
Mary Bujold, president of Maxfield Research and Consulting, said the project in St. Anthony Park fits with a broader effort to increase the number of options for renters who can’t afford some of the luxury buildings that are being built.
“There is a push to incorporate more affordable housing in the urban area,” she said. “And this would be a convenient location for people to be able to use public transit to get back and forth to jobs in a number of locations.”