Relics of Downtown

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February 28, 2005 // UPDATED 1:52 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Greg Corradini
Greg Corradini

A sneak peek into new North Loop lofts

Relics of Downtown's industrial past make for today's hot real-estate commodities. In the North Loop neighborhood, located near and in part overlapping the Warehouse District, developers continue to bustle to meet buyers' demands for both modern convenience and looks and old-factory charm.

Builder Apurva Patel transformed an aged, red-brick warehouse at 918 N. 3rd St. into 30 contemporary condos. The three-story building built in 1922 that formerly housed mouthwash-maker LaVoris Chemical Company is now known as the 918 Lofts.

Stainless-steel appliances and open floor plans give the lofts a modern, sleek appearance; meanwhile, their factory origins lend industrial attitude.

Dan Cervantes, a Realtor with Edina Realty who shows the building, said people interested in this area - young professionals, couples and empty nesters - "want that kind of feel to it."

The original structural pillars line each floor's hallways and pop up in larger units' entrances, looking like sentinels. For extra flair, corrugated wainscoting runs along the lower half of hallway walls. Above, each is painted butterscotch, cherry-red or pistachio green.

Loft-y floor plans

Cervantes said the units manipulate as much open space as possible. (The meaning of "loft" is up for debate. In this case, Merriam Webster's second definition fits: "one of the upper floors of a warehouse or business building, especially when not partitioned.")

The largest is 2,250 square feet with two-plus bedrooms, two bathrooms and 16-foot ceilings. The price tag: $499,000.

"It's a monster," Cervantes said.

On the other end of the price range are single-bed-and-baths ranging from 855 to 1025 square feet. They start at $199,000.

Of the 30 units, Cervantes said there are 22 different floor plans. "Almost every unit is uniquely laid out," he said. "The square-footage is all over the board."

However, there are some design constants. In many units, open kitchens blend into dining rooms and, in some cases, into the second bedroom. Most concrete ceilings have been left naked with exposed ductwork and pipes running their length. Barn-style closet doors add extra ruggedness. And, unless a buyer decides to upgrade them, so do the concrete floors.

Semi-custom

918 Lofts are marketed as "semi-custom," meaning buyers can select paint schemes, lighting fixtures and countertops of their preference for no extra charge.

Cervantes said buyers with signed purchase agreements also walk through their unit with the builder to discuss further changes if they wish. For an additional charge, walls can be constructed to break up space or eliminated to make more room, for example.

Cervantes said one loft-owner, an interior designer, added a grand brick archway now gracing the entryway into their small condo.

918 standards

Each kitchen comes with a stainless-steel dishwasher, range oven, microwave range hood and refrigerator (in addition to a decent number of cabinets). Although the standard stove is electric, units also have gas hook-ups should the owner desire to upgrade to a gas stove, Cervantes said.

Each resident also has access to an exercise room, paid for by association fees that run approximately 35 cents per square foot per month ($350 for a 1,000-square-foot unit). However, underground parking is available for just 24 units, with the other six units relegated to rear surface lot.

The 918 Lofts is surrounded by a neighborhood of condo-conversion projects in progress, including Bassett Creek Lofts, 901 N. 3rd St., and the 710 and 720 Lofts on North 4th Street & 7th Avenue.

Despite the influx of people, the neighborhood retains its industrial feel. At 915 Washington Ave. N., All Safe Fire and Security shares the block with the 918 Lofts, and an empty building sits just across 10th Avenue North. Interstate 94 is not far in the distance.

When asked about noise, Cervantes said the rehabbers kept this in mind, putting extra soundproofing materials into the walls and finished floors.

A few units are still in the last stages of construction, while a handful of others are already occupied. Cervantes said 11 units have been sold and three reserved.

For more information, visit 918lofts.com.