It was no small feat for St. Paul, Minn.–based developer Dominium to turn this 147-year-old brewery into a live–work–play community that revitalized its surroundings, which also happens to be our 2015 Editors' Choice Winner.
Dominium purchased the property in 2012 and spent two long years with architects at BKV Group, the local Heritage Preservation Commission, the State Historic Preservation Office, and the National Park Service to bring the buildings back to life while honoring their iconic history.
After sitting vacant for a decade, many of the buildings had fallen into disrepair after attempted remodels from various owners left them open to the relentless Midwestern winters.
The old industrial site also posed environmental problems that previous attempts at renovation had failed to overcome, including asbestos, lead-based paint, contaminated soil, underground petroleum storage tanks, and ethanol-manufacturing by-products.
Due to the variance in floor levels and existing columns, the architects designed 100 different floor plans for 247 lofts (there are also 13 townhomes on the lot).
Knowing a redeveloped property could revitalize the surrounding section of St. Paul, Dominium targeted artists for its residents with hopes the young creatives would bring a renewed vivacity to the area. So the developer effectively created an affordable live–work community for artists earning no more than 60% of the area median income. At least one household member is required to be an artist whose portfolio must be reviewed by a committee of fellow artists.
Dominium and BKV took artists' needs into account in every detail of the project, presenting them with blank slate–style units for residents to make the spaces their own, wider doorways to move large pieces of artwork, and enough square footage in the units for work space. Community amenities include a fitness center, yoga room, and roof deck.
Since opening in July 2014, Schmidt Artist Lofts has been a catalyst for local urban growth, significantly increasing the number of people working and living in the area.
The property was 100% leased at opening, and currently has a 400-person waiting list.