Loring Park seeks housing for former decadent hospital

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March 8, 2004 // UPDATED 9:27 am - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Loring Park's old Eitel Hospital, one of the city's first hospitals, currently used by Allina's information systems department, will go on the market soon, a company spokesperson said. About 300 people work at the Eitel site, 1375 Willow St.

Another Allina property at 1801 Nicollet Ave. S., just south of Downtown in the Stevens Square neighborhood, recently sold to a private developer. The 27,500-square-foot property housed the nonprofit's creative services department.

The sale of the two properties will help offset $7.9 million in moving costs associated with Allina's recent decision to put its headquarters in the long-vacant Sears site. It is expected to open sometime in 2006, said spokesperson Kendra Calhoun.

Allina officials sought $700,000 for the Stevens Square property and want $7 million for the old Eitel Hospital -- a 131,000-square-foot space that spans the block between Grant Street and 14th Street.

Calhoun said the company expects to keep staff at the Loring Park building indefinitely until they settle on a buyer.

Loring Park neighborhood leaders would like to see the old Eitel Hospital become housing, said Kim Havey, director of the Minneapolis Empowerment Zone and head of the Citizens for a Loring Park Community's Land Use Committee.

"We would like to see the original hospital preserved and are looking for it to have a contextual relationship to surrounding buildings -- something that will fit into the brownstone look in that part of the neighborhood," he said.

Havey said neighborhood leaders would like to see townhouses or condos that have an inviting aesthetic that doesn't wall off the neighborhood from the park.

Affordable housing with a combination of for-sale and rental units would be ideal, he said. As for density, the neighborhood advocates no more than 325 units at that site.

Detroit-based Village Green has been mentioned as a possible developer. The company built the neighborhood's 162-unit City Apartments, a development at 13th Street South and Spruce Place, between Yale and Harmon Places. The high-end apartments, which range between $970 and $3,050 a month, opened in 2002.

The old Eitel Hospital had a decadent quality when it first opened in 1912, which suited the tastes of the neighborhood's wealthy residents. Some hospital rooms had sun porches, Navajo rugs, brass beds and mahogany furniture, according to Minneapolis Public Library records.

The hospital closed in 1985, then was converted to the Willow Street Center for Youth and Families and has since served as offices for Allina's information systems employees.

The neighborhood also wants to work with the developer to improve traffic flow in the section of Loring Park near Willow and Grant streets.

-- Sarah McKenzie