Soo Line Building 101 S. 5th St., Minneapolis

Type: Historic renovation Size: 19 stories Built: 1914 Redeveloper: Village Green Companies

Michigan-based apartment developer Village Green Companies has unveiled some of the details of its proposal to renovate what was once the tallest office building in downtown Minneapolis into about 250 luxury rental units.

The company purchased the 1914-vintage, Renaissance revival-style Soo Line Building from Hempel Properties for $11.3 million in October with the intent of rehabbing it into a centrally located entrant into the Twin Cities apartment-building boom.

Village Green Chairman Jonathan Holtzman didn't provide much information about the company's plans for the landmark when they were announced last year, nor did he respond to an interview request for this article.

But the company revealed the broad scope of its plans for the building's historic exterior facades in submissions by architectural firms Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates of Chicago and BKV Group of Minneapolis to the city's Heritage Preservation Commission.

Village Green, which previously carried out a huge renovation and addition to the Eitel Hospital to create the Eitel Building City Apartments along the edge of Loring Park, is also seeking to perform extensive renovations on the onetime office building. Plans include retail uses on the street and skyway levels.

The main exterior work would involve cleaning and repairing the Soo Line Building's extensive array of decorative terra cotta cladding, window sills and lintels; reconstructing its rooftop parapet wall; repairing and restoring its historic windows; and replacing its non-historic windows and infills with new window units.

Also on Village Green's agenda: complete replacement of the building's street-level storefronts and construction of rooftop additions that would include a 15-foot-tall club room, terrace lounge and bar area.

Decorative terra cotta and granite balconies would be rebuilt. The company also is exploring the possibility of restoring a third-floor skylight that has long been covered with roofing materials.

The redeveloper is pursuing federal and state historic preservation tax credits for the Soo Line project, city planners indicated.


Don Jacobson, a freelance writer based in St. Paul, can be contacted at