Ground was broken last Tuesday for the Schmidt Artist Lofts, a $123 million project to convert St. Paul's historic Schmidt Brewery into 247 rental lofts, many of them designated affordable.

Mayor Chris Coleman, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, other local officials and developers took part in the ceremony launching the redevelopment of the vacant brew house (commonly called "the castle") and bottle house.

Plymouth-based developer Dominium bought the brewery's main structures last fall for $6.2 million. It also plans to build 13 new townhouses next to the bottle house.

Some units may be ready for occupancy later this year, and the entire project is expected to be finished by summer 2014.

The city's Housing and Redevelopment Authority issued $69 million in tax- exempt bonds for the project, some to be paid with rental income and some with tax credit equity. The project received more than $4 million in cleanup funds from city, county and state sources.