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Such projects wouldn’t be possible without state and federal historic tax credits, which help offset the high cost of adapting an old building to a new use.
Todd Phillips said he’ll apply for about $12 million in such credits to convert the Plymouth Building on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis into more than 250 apartments. The vacancy rate in that building, situated in the heart of the central business district, is more than 50 percent, and a restaurant on the main floor recently closed. And like the Soo Line Building, it has big windows, skyway access and a U-shaped footprint that makes it suitable for apartments.
Holtzman has seen it happen in other cities. His company, which owns and manages about 40,000 apartments across the country, has done 15 historic-building conversions, including Randolph Tower in Chicago, a 45-story former office building where an 803-square-foot one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment goes for $2,255 a month.
“It leased up faster than anything in our history,” Holtzman said.
Montez and others say that while such conversions represent just a fraction of the 2,100 or so apartments that are under construction in downtown, their impact could be huge.
“With more home dwellers there, you have more people in the central business district,” Montez said. “This spurs new kinds of retail, such as grocery stores, plus it makes for a more vibrant environment downtown.”
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