2007 MFE Awards
Project of the Year: Adaptive Reuse
In 2002, Johnson Brothers Liquor Co. outgrew and vacated the warehouses that the family-owned company had occupied for 40 years. But the liquor distributor couldn't let go of its former home, which dates back to the early 1900s. So the company teamed up with Plymouth, Minn.-based Dominium Development and Acquisition to turn the three vacant warehouses in St. Paul, Minn., into Carleton Place Lofts, an affordable housing community geared toward artists.
“The family had owned these buildings for a long time and was very proud of what they had done with the business and wanted to make sure the buildings stayed intact for future generations in a way that would benefit the community,” says Mike Krych, a partner at Minneapolis-based BKV Group, the architecture firm that designed the project.
Mission accomplished. The new community brings much-needed affordable housing to the eclectic University-Raymond neighborhood, which offers a mix of office space, surface parking, light industry, ethnic markets, and artists' studios. Ten percent of the units are for residents earning incomes below 30 percent of the area median income; 10 percent are limited to residents with incomes below 50 percent of the AMI; and the remaining 80 percent are for incomes below 60 percent of the AMI.
The three buildings, which landed a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, now feature 169 loft-style units with an abundance of amenities geared toward the artist residents, including a dry room for kilns and pottery, a blond-wood studio for dancers or gallery exhibitions, and a studio designed for music rehearsals.
As expected, the renovation challenges were numerous. One of the biggest: Additional connecting structures had been added to the core buildings over the years, so the development team carefully stripped the site down to its three original buildings and restored the original façades. Now, one building stands alone. The two others are connected by a new structure that houses a large chunk of the common areas. Plus, two new properties are planned for the site. “We wanted to create a clear distinction between the new architecture and the old,” Krych says. “Part of that was making sure we honored the old buildings and let those be the most prestigious components of the site.” The team salvaged artifacts from the original structures, such as big steel doors and clocks, and displayed those throughout the entire development. The coolest memorabilia? An old brick furnace that now serves as a central showpiece.
- Builder: Weis Builders
- Developer: University and Carleton Development and Dominium Development and Acquisition
- Architect: BKV Group
- Opened: November 2006
- Units: 169
- Unit Mix: Studios and one- and two-bedrooms
- Prices: $393 to $1,017
Judge's Verdict“THE PROJECT OFFERS GOOD UNIT PLANS WITHIN THE EXISTING SHELL, AND IT'S PART OF A MULTI-PHASE COMMUNITY THAT WILL BE AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE CITY.”
—K.C. Dutton, senior associate, Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects