The Campbell-Logan Bindery building would house retail, apartments under new proposal
When Greg Campbell moved his father’s binding business into the North Loop in the late 1970s, the neighborhood looked very different.
People played flag football in the middle of street because so few cars drove by. Instead of boutique retailers and creative agencies, manufacturers churned out stoves and industrial goods nearby and a food distributor operated across the street. The area, Campbell said, was a “little dicey.”
“It was a pretty rough and tumble neighborhood,” he said.
Now the Campbell-Logan Bindery is leaving the neighborhood for Fridley and he is selling the building that the business has been in for nearly 39 years. The buyer, Falcon Ridge Partners, plans to rehabilitate the 1885 building for commercial tenants on the ground floor and apartments on the upper three floors.
Campbell never listed the building, but said he was forced to consider selling it with growing financial pressures. The building’s drum-wind elevator, which he surmises is one of the oldest elevators in Minneapolis, is not compliant with city code and would require a half-a-million-dollar fix and closing down the business for several months.
The binding industry has also changed, Campbell said, moving away from magazines, periodicals and academic publications to a boutique service for private publishers, printers and household clients nationwide. Local major universities and Mayo Clinic Libraries remain some of the bindery’s clients. Much of the work is done by hand, he added.
These issues, compounded with rising property taxes, led Campbell to accept an offer.
“I didn’t want to sell the building. I loved the building,” Campbell said. “I wanted to drop dead in here binding books.”
The move this summer will see a “radical downsize” for the bindery’s services and workforce of nine people, Campbell said. At one point, the bindery had occupied half the building.
The bindery is just one business that has called the building home during its roughly 130-year history. The building, designed by prolific Minneapolis architect William Whitney, had been known for Baker Importing Co., which occupied the entire building around the turn of the 20th century. The firm, one of the first companies west of Chicago to exclusively import and prepare coffee, supplied instant coffee to the U.S. Army during both world wars, according to a memo from historical consultant Hess, Roise and Co.
A shoe maker, a spice importer and a book shop have moved in over the years. In the bindery’s time, artist lofts, graphic art companies and office users have occupied the rest of the building.
Amanda Hawn, a partner at Falcon Ridge Partners, said in an email that it’s a “great building on a great street in a great neighborhood.”
“It also has a wonderful history as the production site for steel cut coffee and, more recently, book arts of all kinds. We’re hoping to keep some of that history alive in the building’s next era,” Hawn said in an email.
The firm’s vision includes 21 apartments and commercial space across the first floor and a one-story addition. A surface parking lot would remain on the site.
“One hundred plus years from now, we will just be another one of those names, but I hope the building will still be there to evidence some of our investment and belief in it,” she said.
RoehrSchmitt Architecture is designing the project. Falcon Ridge has applied for historic tax credits, according to submitted plans approved by the Heritage Preservation Commission in late June.
The sale is set to go through July 10, Campbell said.
The firm is also rehabilitating the former Sex World building in the neighborhood. The project, dubbed The Washington, has gradually attracted tenants in the past year, including menswear retailer Bonobos, Upstairs Circus and, most recently, fitness studio ALTR. Hawn said Bank of America plans to open a location in the building at 121 Washington Ave. N.