Project Spotlight | Millworks Lofts: More than sashes and doors

Historic industrial buildings remind us of how our communities formed and functioned. They also remind us how those communities and manufacturing needs have changed over the course of a century. The unique characteristics of these large spaces have also inspired great vision for their revitalization.

Dominium is adept at identifying the modern value of historic industrial properties. The Millworks Lofts in Minneapolis, Minnesota is an excellent example of such an opportunity. Located in the Hiawatha-Longfellow neighborhood, among aging silos and other industrial remnants, the Dominium team has transformed the former Lake Street Sash & Door Company into affordable housing. With the help of MHA, Dominium has successfully qualified for historic tax credits because of their historically sensitive rehabilitation.

The 1920s factory and lumber shed served for four decades as the main building for the Lake Street Sash & Door Company’s manufacturing activities. Careful rehabilitation included retaining historic windows and exposed industrial features such the wood structural system and masonry walls. The project’s 78 units include modern kitchen appliances, 12- to 15-foot ceilings, and lots of historic character. Amenities for the building include a fitness room, yoga room, club room, and rooftop patio. Indoor parking was creatively designed to fit in the former lumberyard building.

Another amenity is the Millworks Lofts’ location two blocks from the Metro Blue Line, a Minneapolis-St. Paul light rail line that connects residents to downtown Minneapolis to the north and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to the south. Proximity to transportation lines and affordability of units have resulted in a consistently fully-occupied building.

Dominium also made sustainability a priority for the rehabilitation. One of the most compelling features is the geothermal heating system that draws heat from the parking lot and the building in the warm months, returning that heat to the building in the cold months. Other considerations for sustainable practice and to help lower utility bills for residents included LED lighting, low-flow plumbing, and rooftop energy recovery units, all of which were approved as meeting the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.

The Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) featured Millworks Lofts as a successful rehabilitation project in their publication “Economic Impact of Projects Leveraged by the Minnesota Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit: Fiscal Year 2018.” The publication demonstrates the economic impact and success of the state historic tax credit (HTC) program beyond just saving historic structures. Millworks Lofts received $5.8 million in state historic tax credits and during the rehabilitation generated an estimated $52.7 million in economic activity. For the state of Minnesota, their investment in the state HTC yielded approximately $9.20 in economic activity for every dollar they provided the project in tax credits.

Millworks Lofts is addressing the desires of the community for affordable, transit-oriented, sustainable, and beautiful living space in an increasingly popular neighborhood of Minneapolis. It is far more than just doors and sashes.

This article first appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of The Historic Advisor article about one of our Minnesota projects with some new updates.

Learn more about the Minnesota Rehabilitation Tax Credit or other state historic tax credit programs.