Hennepin County on Tuesday sold the defunct grain elevator on Hiawatha Avenue at 41st Street for its minimum price: $23,000.
The buyer is a Minnesota native and Twin Cities property owner named Adam Mackie, a Navy officer based in Germany. He wants to turn the old structure into apartments.
Mackie, originally from Ely, Minn., was the sole bidder for the elevator in an auction at the Hennepin County Government Center. When bidding opened at 9:04 a.m., Chris Mauzy, a Twin Cities property manager who represents Mackie, raised his bid card once. A minute later, the gavel dropped.
Mauzy manages four apartment buildings on behalf of Mackie throughout the Twin Cities. This will be their most ambitious project by far.
“He wants to explore grain silo apartments like some he has seen in Europe,” Mauzy said. “Obviously, Plan B if the city won’t allow it, will be to tear it down and build new apartments in its place.”
Doing so will likely cost millions of dollars. A report by the county showed there’s water in the basement, crumbling materials, uneven surfaces and ventilation problems to overcome.
“I don’t think he’s worried because of his preplanning,” Mauzy said. “He spent a couple of months researching this one.”
Hennepin County, shackled with the tax-forfeited property, simply wanted to get the parcel back on its tax roll.
“We are hopeful that with this sale the property will be redeveloped and put to a productive use,” Mark Chapin, the county auditor, said in a statement.
In addition to the legal, observational and environmental assessments performed by the county, Mackie’s U.S.-based legal and real estate team conducted their own analysis.
The 35,000-square-foot plot has sat vacant since 2011. The county fenced it off to prevent trespassers from hurting themselves in the dilapidated structure.
“He didn’t want to overpay for it, but at this price he can explore other options if Plan A doesn’t work,” Mauzy said.
Mackie in 2014 purchased 223 Bates Av., a St. Paul apartment building with commercial space, as a historic renovation project.
“He’s really big on not getting rid of fixtures and preserving yesteryear,” Mauzy said. “I’m sure his biggest concerns with the elevator are keeping the look of it, preserving its charm and restoring it to something cool.”
Mackie and his wife, Andrea, have lived in Minneapolis in the past. He has not yet shared details on his timeline.