Dominium has converted an empty brewery in St. Paul, Minn. into affordable artist lofts.
Dominium has converted an empty brewery in St. Paul, Minn. into affordable artist lofts.

Marisha Chamberlain has found inspiration at home.

Chamberlain, 62, is a writer and lives in a renovated brewery, renamed the Schmidt Artist Lofts, in St. Paul, Minn.

“About 20 years ago I wrote a screenplay set in the brewery,” she says. “And now I’m writing an opera set in Manchester, New Hampshire, but the architecture is exactly the same here.”

Her inspiration is exactly what the team at Dominium set out to do when converting the Schmidt Brewery into artist lofts and townhouses. The Minneapolis-based company took did a $120 million historic renovation to convert the brewery into 260 units of living space for local dancers, musicians, painters and other artists.

The Schmidt Brewery was built in the 1930s and housed several different companies until the last kegs rolled off the line in 2002. The building sat vacant for decades and Dominium saw a unique opportunity to convert it into workforce housing with funding from tax-exempt bonds, 4 percent low-income housing tax credits, state and federal historic tax credits, Community Development Block Grant funds, and tax increment financing from the city.

The community is divided into sections, including 121 units in the bottling house, 126 units in the brew house and 13 townhomes near the bottling house.

Emily Linbo, the community manager, says one of her favorite places in the community is the rooftop deck over the brewhouse.

“It has a gorgeous view of downtown St. Paul and the river,” she says.

Other amenities include a dance studio, yoga and pilates space, and a community room that can be reserved by residents for special events such as birthdays and graduations. One resident plans on hosting a movie premiere in the community’s theater space, Linbo says.

Chamberlain loves the common-area amenities and raves about the high ceilings in her loft. But her favorite feature isn’t visible.

“The very thoughtful soundproofing [is the best part of the building],” she says. “So when I’m in my loft, I might as well be in a cabin in the woods. It is that quiet and for a writer, that is gold.”

The project broke ground in January of last year and is expected to wrap up later this year. Linbo expects the entire project to be fully leased by the end of this month.

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