Troy Thies Photography

ElseWarehouse is a perfect example of the old adage TO not judge a book by its cover. Though the building exterior is plain, the inside is anything but ordinary.

Renovation of a 1920s-era warehouse into a mixed-use community created a striking blend of modern features and original details. “From this raw industrial space, our goal was to create a very chic, hip atmosphere that would be one of a kind in the Twin Cities,” says Michael Krych, a partner at BKV Group.

This is seen in an array of unique spaces, such as the open atrium that holds seating alcoves, a coffee bar, and a cyber café.

The idea sprung from an initial challenge posed by the building’s floor plates, which measured more than 100 feet deep, and large windows on both sides. “We cut atriums into the deep floor plates to bring daylight into the middle and allow some of these units, which are very deep and narrow, to bring in some daylight. That creates the whole iconic vision of the project,” Krych explains.

Using the large roof for the deluxe clubhouse and skypark was “a no-brainer,” according to Krych. “We wanted to make it really light and airy, so it’s mostly glass, with panoramic views of the city.” The rooftop space provides ample seating, a fire pit, and a pool table and bar, along with a dog park and a green roof.

Creating updated spaces while maintaining historic character was a careful balancing act, and the team worked closely with the State Historic Preservation Office to place the buildings on the state and federal registers of historic places, which gave the developers access to state and federal historic tax credits.

ElseWarehouse was fully leased in five months, and its residential and retail success has spurred development in the North Loop and helped revitalize the area. Adds Krych: “A part of our project approach with the whole team was trying to create something transformative, and this particular project, we think, definitely was an instigator to transform this neighborhood.”