Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

Grain Belt Redevelopment Site – “Nordeast” Minneapolis

Dateline: 2:00 pm October 6, 2011 Filed under:

Bar in Historic Grain Belt Office Building

Bar in Historic Grain Belt Office Building

The Northeaster newspaper has reported that the Sheridan Neighborhood Association in northeast Minneapolis has indicated their preferred development team for redevelopment of a parcel and final historic building on the historic Grain Belt Brewery complex in northeast Minneapolis. That is good news, as I was part of the Diversified Equities team proposing 125 market rate apartment units, a public plaza and event center. The apartments will be located in a new building, while the event center and possible retail use will be in the historic Grain Belt office building.

I provided the market study for the proposal, which found strong conditions in the marketplace for market rate apartments. More thorny issues for the team included maintaining a view corridor through the site of the historic brewhouse across the street, minimizing on-site parking while ensuring proposed uses were viable, dealing with shallow bedrock and water table and a moderate grade chage across the site, and maximizing the public benefit of the proposed plaza while providing a return on investment for the developer and city.

I was a big proponent of ensuring the public realm was attractive, including an attractive public plaza in the shadow of the historic brewhouse and ground floor units with walk-up entrances. Perhaps most exciting is the plan for an event center in the historic office building of the site, which could accomodate small and medium-sized groups. More exciting to me is the Friendship Room in the lower level, with its Grain Belt bar, intact and in good condition. Beer tastings used to occur in this Rathskellar, and I can easily envision it being used again for events. Painted in the woodwork next to the Grain Belt logo is “Bier and brot macht die wangen rot,” which is German for “Beer and bread make the cheeks red.”

A little sliver of historic Minneapolis, still preserved for now. Let’s hope the city council agrees with the Sheridan Neighborhood Organization, and a good development agreement and financing package can be hammered out. Apartments will bring more residents and retail demand to the area, and the event center will bring more visitors who deserve to share this little slice of history, or just some beer and bread!

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