Dominium is transforming a former Pillsbury flour mill into artist lofts in <a href=Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Dominium.">

Dominium is transforming a former Pillsbury flour mill into artist lofts in Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Dominium.

Credit: Dominium is transforming a former Pillsbury flour mill into artist lofts in Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Dominium.

A historic flour mill in Minneapolis is getting a big makeover and will soon become home to more than 250 affordable live/work artist apartments.

Owen Metz says the plan to repurpose the mill was alluring to the team at Plymouth, Minn.-based Dominium after the first restoration plan, structured by a different developer, couldn’t get the momentum it needed to be turned into a condominium project.

Metz, a developer with Dominium, says it will cost about $151 million to preserve the National Historic Landmark known as the Pillsbury A Mill into the A-Mill Artist Lofts.

“The previous developer was foreclosed out,” Metz says. “So we started negotiating with the bank and bought the property.”

The six-story mill, which was built in 1881, once produced 14,000 barrels of flour each day, according to the General Mills website. While there are a lot of local historic buildings that could be rehabbed to become residential, the Pillsbury site, overlooking the Mississippi River and offering views of downtown, was unique to the team at Dominium.

And its location in Minneapolis, historically one of the nation's strongest rental markets, made the decision a no-brainer.

“This building is the best location we have in our portfolio,” Metz says. “Our market is strong. It has always been strong, even during the downturn.”

The $150 million project was financed through a combination of state and federal historic tax credits, low-income housing tax credits, and conventional construction debt. Additionally, the project garnered interest from the local community and secured environmental clean-up funding, and redevelopment funds.

“It’s in our backyard,” he says. “It’s part of our community. Any time you can do work 10 miles from your office, that makes it an easy choice.”

Working to preserve the history while adding modern twists, such as more natural light and taller ceilings, is handing the Dominium team a complex project, but it's on schedule for completion during the summer of 2015 with the first residents moving in by the end of this year.

Lindsay Machak is an Associate Editor for Multifamily Executive. Connect with her on Twitter @LMachak.