Twin Cities restaurateur John Rimarcik has another big-deal project on his plate, but it has nothing to do with the food. On Tuesday, representatives for his company will present plans to the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission to convert one of the last vacant warehouse buildings in the North Loop into offices.
If approved, Rimarcik will convert the four-story Lakeland Floral building at 21 N. 3rd St. into offices and commercial space.
The conversion would be far from ordinary, said JoAnna Hicks, a principal and CEO at Minneapolis-based Element Commercial Real Estate, which would serve as the development consultant and handle leasing.
Because the building was once flanked by other structures that have since been demolished, it has several large light wells and skylights that will be restored and adapted to help funnel light into interior spaces. Large storefront windows that have been filled in with brick and glass block will be restored. And a roof deck will be added for building tenants. Two adjacent surface parking lots will remain for tenants' use.
Hicks said she hasn't started marketing the space yet, but she has received interest from nearly a half dozen prospective tenants.
"This is perfect for established firms that are looking for a creative environment with a connection to energy of North Loop and Warehouse District, but still have a strong presence and an ability to create their own atmosphere," she said. "It's an incredibly dramatic space and a cool opportunity to create a beautiful office environment."
Minneapolis-based Adsit Architecture and Planning would serve as architect and historical consultant on the project.
The building was previously known as the Lakeland Building and was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, but for many years it has been known by the name of a previous tenant, Lakeland Florist Supply Co.
The original building was constructed in 1885, then received a new facade in 1910 and another major overhaul after a fire in 1916.
The building is situated in the heart of the North Loop Warehouse District and is governed by historic guidelines in the area. Rimarcik will apply for federal historic tax credits to do the rehab. Hennepin County property records value the building at $1.1 million for tax purposes.
It's not the first chance at rehab for the building. In 2015, Rimarcik planned to sell the building to another developer who wanted to convert the building into about 30 rental apartments and 5,000 square feet of street-level commercial space.
The project follows Rimarcik's recent conversion of the once-dilapidated Lowry-Morrison building, one of the oldest in the historic district. He also worked with Element and Adsit in the rehab of that Italianate-style building, which is at the corner of N. Washington and 2nd avenues. That building dates to 1879 and was the first historic tax-credit project for Rimarcik, who owns several nearby buildings and restaurants including the Monte Carlo and Runyons. It now houses Edwards Dessert Kitchen.
Hicks said the timing of the proposal, which still needs various city approvals, is fortuitous. Construction of the nearby 37-story RBC Gateway tower project is generating significant interest in underutilized buildings in the surrounding area.
If approved, construction is expected to begin in September and to be completed during the second quarter of 2020.