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The Ceresota building has proved somewhat unpopular as office space, in part because of a lack of windows on one side.

File photo by DAVID BREWSTER • dbrewster@startribune.com,

Plan B for Mill District landmark

  • Article by: Janet Moore
  • Star Tribune
  • January 2, 2014 - 9:15 PM

A plan to convert office space in the historic Ceresota building into apartments has surfaced once again at Minneapolis City Hall.

Ceresota Funding, a St. Louis Park firm that owns the Mill District structure, won approval from the Minneapolis Planning Commission in December 2012 to convert the mill into 117 apartments. But plans have changed since then, and now the company is planning 57 senior-oriented residential units, plus a rooftop solarium and deck, solar panels, mechanical improvements and new signs.

The firm’s principals did not return phone calls on Thursday.

The new proposal for the property, at 155 5th Av. S., will be considered by the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission on Jan. 7. City staff members have recommended that the commission approve the plan.

Built in 1908 for the Northwestern Consolidating Milling Co., the maker of Ceresota flour, the 11-story structure was erected to clean and store grain for neighboring mills along the Mississippi River. It was one of the largest brick grain elevators ever constructed.

But later in life, it was significant in another way — its original renovation into office space in the late 1980s helped usher in an era of historic restoration in the Mill District, now the Gold Coast of residential real estate in downtown Minneapolis.

However, the building proved a bit unfriendly for office use, largely because of a massive windowless facade on its south side that displays the flour brand’s historic logo.

The Star Tribune reported a year ago that the Class B office space in the structure did not attract meaningful interest, and that one of the larger tenants, Walden University, intended to downsize its space requirements.

So Ceresota Funding decided to try to tap into the hot apartment market downtown instead.

According to city documents, the owners believe the 1,152-square-foot rooftop solarium is a key part of the project “since it has been difficult to develop this property due to the lack of windows and outdoor space.”

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752

© 2014 Star Tribune