A New York state of mind

  • Article by: CONNIE NELSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 20, 2009 - 9:33 AM

Interior designer Andrew Flesher built his own Little Apple atmosphere in a converted Minneapolis hotel.

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Andrew Flesher in his home

Photo: Michael Sharp, Star Tribune

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Andrew Flesher was looking for a change.

The celebrated interior designer -- he's been featured in Metropolitan Home, named one of the 25 top young designers by House Beautiful and spent plenty of time in front of the HGTV cameras -- had been living in an all-white, ultramodern loft on the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. Although he loved the sleekness, the starkness and the wide-open spaces, he was ready for something a little more "homey."

He found it across town at the 510 Grove-land cooperative on Loring Park.

The dated apartment in that stately, Art Deco-style building reminded him of a New York City pied-a-terre. An Upper East Side prewar pied-a-terre, to be exact. "I even imagined Loring Park as Central Park," he said.

The classic apartment was a fraction of the size of the contemporary loft he'd left, but it offered all the comforts of a traditional home: cozy rooms, a wood-burning fireplace and sophisticated architectural details. It didn't hurt that the top-floor, corner unit in the historic building had a view not just of Loring Park, but the city skyline, as well.

Years before Flesher bought it, the 1,097-square-foot space had been converted from two hotel rooms into a single apartment. Flesher "touched every surface" in the place -- installing new flooring, waxed Venetian plaster ceilings and more decorative molding. But he didn't tear down walls or combine rooms. Instead, he tried to keep the condo true to the building's past by turning it into "a little jewel box of a space."

He spared no expense in the small powder room and master bath, outfitting one with a powdered silver sink, crystal door and cabinet knobs and Jerusalem marble floors and the other with floor-to-ceiling tiles, vintage Italian sconces and a polished nickel medicine cabinet that came with a $3,000 price tag. He took the 6- by 9-foot kitchen and tricked it out to look like an airliner's galley, complete with stainless steel cabinets, counters and top-of-the-line appliances.

"Coming from a space twice as large, I thought everything in this apartment could be top quality and everything I wanted," he said.

Now, Flesher is once again looking for a change.

His condo is on the market, in part because he's spending most of his time in New York, where he and business partner Tom Gunkelman opened an East Coast office of GunklemanFlesher Interior Design. "That beautiful apartment is sitting empty three weeks out of the month," Flesher said. "It's a waste."

Flesher plans to keep an apartment in the Twin Cities, but said he doesn't regret the time, money and inspiration he poured into his place at the 510, which was featured in a six-page spread in Metropolitan Home in March 2007.

"I love designing my own space," he said. "It's the only time no one says no to me."

Connie Nelson • 612-673-7087

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  • Kitchen

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  • 510 Groveland

  • You can have it for . . . $499,900

    History: The six-story building was built in 1927 as a 48-room luxury hotel and became a cooperative in 1946. The original swanky lobby, ornate light fixtures, crown moldings and Art Deco-style elevators are intact, and the building now has 39 units.

    The draw: Some units have views of Loring Park, the Basilica of St. Mary and the downtown Minneapolis skyline. La Belle Vie, one of the best restaurants in the Twin Cities, is on the first floor. There’s a heated garage and 24-hour front desk attendant.

    Notable former residents: Architect Milo Thompson, Audrey Hepburn’s press secretary and Thomas Lowry — the developer of the Lowry Hill neighborhood.

    For sale: Eight condos, including Flesher’s, are on the market, ranging from a $119,900 studio to a $599,000 penthouse.

    Listing agent for the Flesher condo: Michael Sharp, Remax Results, 612-623-4100.

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