Restaurateur John Rimarcik has plans to turn one of the oldest original buildings in the Minneapolis Warehouse Historic District into a mixed-use office and possible restaurant space after years of it sitting in disrepair.

The Lowry and Morrison block, which consists of a three-story brick building on Washington Avenue N. on the corner of 2nd Avenue N., has many of its windows boarded up, but still retains much of its integrity, according to documents made available Tuesday that were submitted to the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission.

“We have been trying to do this for years, and we are finally going to do it,” said Rimarcik, who has owned the building for about 15 years and hopes to take advantage of federal and state tax incentives to help with the renovations.

He acknowledged the building’s current appearance has been a blight on the neighborhood.

The structure currently houses an art gallery and storage space.

The nearly 22,000-square-foot space would have offices on the second and third floor, with the main floor to be occupied by a retail or restaurant tenant, Rimarcik said. Tenants have not been solidified.

While there has been interest because of the location, the area’s biggest challenge for commercial tenants is the limited parking in the neighborhood, he said.

Rimarcik, who owns several Twin Cities eateries including the nearby Monte Carlo and Runyon’s, said the restaurant would not be something he operates.

Back in 2007, the Lowry-Morrison building was eyed for redevelopment into office and retail space as part of the Pacific project that included two tall condominiums and a hotel, but the project never materialized after financing fell through.

The Lowry and Morrison Block, which is in the Italianate style, was constructed in 1879, and has been leased to various businesses dealing in everything from tobacco to fish. The lot where the structure was built had originally been purchased by prominent businessmen Thomas Lowry and Clinton Morrison.

The Lowry and Morrison Block, which has three storefronts that face Washington Avenue, is one of the three oldest surviving structures in the historic district, the other two being the Pacific Block, built in 1865, and the Anthony Kelly & Co. building, built in 1877.

The renovation would include repairing some of the building’s brick facade, stabilizing structural walls, replacing several existing doors and installing new mechanical and electrical systems as well as a new roof.

“It is a beautiful, beautiful building,” said David Frank, president of the North Loop Neighborhood Association. “I’m very happy that something’s going to happen.”

If approved, construction should be completed by the end of next year. The application to allow for the rehab is scheduled to be reviewed by the commission at a Dec. 13 meeting.

 

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