A long-vacant building in downtown Hopkins is the new home of an architecture firm moving from Eden Prairie.
Wilkus Architects is taking over the old Snyder’s Drug near the corner of 9th Avenue N. and Mainstreet. The firm is currently rehabbing the building, which has been vacant for six years. Early next year, Wilkus and its 28 employees will move in to their new digs.
The project is the latest in a string of new developments in downtown Hopkins, including the Gallery Flats, with 163 apartments, and Marketplace & Main, with 53 apartments and seven townhouses.
Also notable is a new brewpub, LTD Brewing Co. Co-owner Blake Verdon said he’s been surprised by the foot traffic at the pub. He expected about a 50-50 split between taproom sales and distribution but said the taproom sales have been much stronger than expected.
The arrival of the Wilkus firm is another boost to the city’s longtime strategy of strengthening its downtown core, said Kersten Elverum, Hopkins director of economic development and planning.
“The strongest identity that Hopkins has is this small-town feel, and at the heart of that is a vibrant downtown,” she said. “It’s the heart of the city, our retail core. Our city councils for generations have protected it through zoning and reinvestment in the infrastructure and the amenities.
“What particularly excites us about the Wilkus project is that it’s bringing 28 creative professional people that will add to the creative energy of the downtown,” Elverum said.
In the spring, Hopkins will begin a major refurbishing of Mainstreet in the central business district, from 5th Avenue to 20th Avenue. The project includes new pavement, updated traffic signals, drainage improvements, new sidewalk benches and replacement of curbs and sidewalks.
The city also will replace a 1950s water main that runs through the area and upgrade some lighting and electrical service downtown.
“Our vision is bringing more people living and working in our downtown,” Elverum said.