Developer, North Loop artists, cut relocation deal

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June 7, 2004 // UPDATED 1:52 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

A North Loop artist collective known as the Studios @ 700 has reached an agreement with condo developer Chuck Leer over relocation plans.

The artists have occupied space in an old warehouse at 700 Washington Ave. N. since 1982. Leer has purchased the building with plans to convert it into 143 high-end condos called the Tower Lofts.

The collective has occupied 30 studios on the warehouse's third and fourth floor. Some of the artists moved out Memorial Day weekend. The rest are scheduled to find new spaces by Aug. 1, Leer said.

The developer paid the artists to relocate to accommodate summer condo conversion construction. The collective's lease was set to expire in December.

One collective member has chosen to stay in the building -- moving into one of 24 spaces reserved for artists, Leer said.

One of the collective's artists plan to hold open houses this month at the warehouse to showcase his work one last time.

Painter Edward Lentsch will open his studio to the public three weekends this month, beginning June 12.

It took months for the two sides to reach a relocation agreement. Some artists opposed the condo conversion that would claim their spacious and affordable studios that are difficult to find Downtown.

Built in 1920, the airy warehouse first housed the Northern Bag Company and later the Flour City Brush Company. It's one of several hulking warehouses on Downtown's northern stretch of Washington Avenue.

Leer has dubbed the neighborhood "NoWare" for North Warehouse District.

"We choose to call our neighborhood NoWare rather than North Loop (the name on most maps), because NoWare better describes the serious fun we're having creating a new place to live in Minneapolis," Leer wrote on the Tower Lofts Web site. "NoWare, to us, is the slice of the city between the Mississippi riverfront and the I-94 connection to Downtown."

The Towers Loft development is one of several underway in the area.