Hot Spot: New North Loop Plans

North Loop Twin Cities Development Ambitious and expensive new development plans are sure to change the already distinctly non-warehouse character of Minneapolis' North Loop. It has become a desirable "condo capital" and apartment center of the near-downtown area. But new housing, and other modern development, come at a price.

Availability of surface parking that once made the North Loop attractive for residents and visitors alike is now being sacrificed to allow new buildings to rise from the rubble. And what was once a district of low-rise commercial buildings, brick factories and solid warehouses is now reaching skyward.

Hotels, retail, condos, and underground parking -- they're what's coming to replace street level parking in Minneapolis' North Loop. The hotels and condos, newly built and brick-faced to blend with the character of this old working district, will likely have heated underground garage spaces complete with carwash stations for their inhabitants. But will a dearth of street parking discourage visitors? Can residents alone support planned new retail and keep local eateries filled? Will older existing buildings be razed at some point to make room for more parking?

How Long Will Development Continue?

Minneapolis, it seems, has become boom town, with rising prices and a scramble to snatch up remaining open space. A development group led by Howard Bergerud reportedly paid $7.4 million for a one-acre site on 2nd St. Termed a "placeholder," the planned six-story apartment building known as The Foundry will be adjacent to a two-story retail and recreation building, with a two-level underground parking garage to tie it all together. Preliminary plans have been submitted to the city with a stated cost estimate of $49.3 million.

A second Bergerud project near the Federal Reserve will include a "125-unit luxury hotel, 70 condo units, three levels of underground parking and retail and restaurant space," according to a recent Crane Watch report. The developer is hoping that more than $650,000 in grant money will help with environmental remediation at the site. Reportedly, the hotelier and restaurant operator have been selected, but final plans remain hazy for what is referred to in city documents as Azine Alley.

A Popular Location

Despite the cost, North Loop development is part of a trend that has brought thousands of new rental units to the urban core just in the past couple of years. Demand is still high and vacancy rates low. During the final quarter of 2016, the vacancy rate dropped to only 2.6 percent.

While much new residential construction is in Downtown and near the University of Minnesota campus, the North Loop is a viable and popular district for condo conversions and rental units. It boasts funky eateries, local service businesses, proximity to the river and local parks and trails, a walkable lifestyle and parking. However, much of that street-level parking may be sacrificed to the new development. It remains to be seen if that will be a problem or not.

For now, the North Loop is booming, and there is no end in sight.

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