The Armory is pictured shortly after it was completed in the 1930s.
The Minneapolis Armory, which is in the midst of being transformed into an event space, is a step closer to becoming a local historic landmark.
The facility, which takes up an entire block across from the Commons Park near U.S. Bank Stadium, has “played a significant civic, cultural, and social role in the history of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota,” according to a recently completed study by city staff.
The report will be discussed at the Tuesday meeting of the city Heritage Preservation Commission. It would still have to get City Council approval. If given historic protections, any changes to the building would have to follow guidelines that can dictate everything from windows to additions, said city planner Brian Schaffer. The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties will be used to evaluate the appropriateness of alterations.
When Ned Abdul, leader of Minneapolis-based Swervo Development, purchased the facility for $6 million in 2015, he had grandiose plans of transforming the building from a parking garage into an event center that could serve between 3,000 to 5,000 people.
Last January, the commission approved temporary protection for the Armory to prevent any significant work to be done to the building without review while the designation study was conducted. In November, the commission approved work including an elevator overrun and an addition on the Portland Avenue side of the building.
“We have been working with the property owner so that the property owner can move forward,” Schaffer said.
Abdul didn’t return calls on how the potential designation could affect the rest of the renovation.
Built in 1935, the Armory has been used by the Minnesota National Guard and for trade shows, political conventions, boxing and wrestling tournaments. It was used part-time by professional basketball team the Minneapolis Lakers.
The Armory has served as the filming site for several music videos, such as Prince’s “1999” and Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” In recent years it was a parking garage.
In a November letter, the state Historic Preservation Office called the facility “an ideal candidate for local designation” and mentioned the mural paintings within the building, its modern architectural style that was found in many projects sanctioned by the Public Works Administration (PWA) during the Great Depression and its 1985 designation on the National Register of Historic Places.