At the turn of the 19th century, visionary urban planners established the Grand Rounds parks system in Minneapolis, including the grand urban Loring Park at the doorstop of downtown. On the edge of the park grew eclectic neighborhoods, along with Eitel, constructed in 1911 as one of the city’s first major hospitals and, for decades, a regional center for natal care. Over the years, Eitel fell into disuse until Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Village Green and Minneapolis-based architectural firm BKV Group recognized an opportunity to restore the building to its original iconic glory.
“There wasn’t much from an architectural perspective to warrant historical status, but with its cultural importance, we were able to lobby the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service to land the Eitel on the National Historic Register,” says BKV partner Michael Krych.
Builder: Frana Cos.
Developer: Village Green
Architect: BKV Group
Opened: May 2008
No. of Units: 212
Unit Mix: Studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments
Prices: $1,045 to $2,420 per month
With that designation came historical tax credits and the catalyst for a transformative adaptive reuse project that included the addition of two contemporary buildings to the site. The resulting 212-unit luxury rental property targets Twin City urbanites and offers 24-hour concierge, a Zen garden, yoga and massage services, a business center, and a rooftop club deck featuring 360 degree views of the city—as well as an outdoor movie screen.
The real views, however, come from afar, where Eitel again commands a premier position adjacent to Loring Park. (The development team rebuilt a cornice and parapet based on old photos.) “We wanted the contemporary buildings to complement the Eitel’s iconic look but also be knitted back into the neighborhood,” Krych says. “We walked through the neighborhood over and over again to get a sense of scale and materials.”
Best of all, a pedestrian pass- through further emphasizes the narrowing gap between open space and urban living. “We could have had private courtyards, but it’s time to think bigger,” Krych says. “The idea is to have the residents enjoy the open spaces but also open it up to the public so that everyone can be a participant.”