Jeff and Craig Cohen, who plan to finalize their purchase of the Schmidt Brewery in April, announced plans to develop the bottling plant into artists lofts last month. We'll get the chance to meet Jeff and Craig at our West End Arts meeting on December 5th. Stay tuned for details!
If you haven't heard the latest news about the brewery, here's an article that appeared in the Star Tribune.
Old Schmidt Brewery will be on tap for artists
Turning part of the bottling house into artist housing could fill a niche and revitalize part of West Seventh Street, developers say.
By Chris Havens, Star Tribune
October 31, 2007
The old Schmidt Brewery, which lies vacant on 15 acres in St. Paul, is often referred to as the heart of the West Seventh Street community.
Developers are hoping artistic creativity will get the blood pumping there again. A deal to turn the 100,000-square-foot bottling house into a place for artists to live and work was announced Wednesday, and proponents of the project say it could be the springboard for more development on the site.
The complex, built mostly in the Romanesque style, has lain dormant since 2004, when the Gopher State Ethanol plant operating there was closed. The brewery's castle-like structures were built between 1900 and 1939. The brewery has always been a symbol of the community, said Council Member Dave Thune. "We want to bring life and liveliness back into the neighborhood," he said.
The development will probably have 90 to 100 units and cost $25 million to $30 million, said Mark Moorhouse of Dominium, a Plymouth-based development firm that's buying the building. Work could start in late 2008, with completion likely in early 2010. "There are lots of arts organizations and creative people around West Seventh, and we're carving out a niche," Moorhouse said.
Called a huge first step
Bill Hosko, who's challenging Thune for the Second Ward City Council seat, said he has supported a mixed-use development at the brewery for years. "At first blush, it sounds like a great idea, but I'd have to see their proposal."
Jeff Cohen of Washington D.C., and his son, Craig, who has lived in St. Paul for a decade, will be the master developers and have a purchase agreement to buy the entire site from BHGDN, the current owners. They plan to close on that deal in April, said Jeff Cohen, who has done residential projects in Maine.
Plans for the rest of the site could include a couple of hundred thousand square feet of retail space and a hotel or condominiums.
Ken Peterson, president of the West Seventh/Fort Road Federation, called the deal a huge first step in the development of the complex. He said artist housing had been among the first things community members talked about. "Artists seem to get very vested in the community," Peterson said. "They like neighborhoods."
'A lot of potential'
And there's not a lot of affordable housing for artists, said Tom Melchior, manager of market research for LarsonAllen, a Minneapolis accounting and consulting firm. Although he said he wasn't familiar with the Schmidt plan, Melchior said the location is excellent. "It's an area of St. Paul with a lot of potential," he said.
Lowertown has a thriving arts community and a few buildings that cater to artists. The Carleton Lofts on University Avenue, also a Dominium project, filled up with renters quickly, creating a waiting list.
"If it's below market price, they'll have a huge demand," said Wendy Holmes, vice president of consulting and resource development with ArtSpace, a national nonprofit developer.
ArtSpace has about 150 rental units of artist live/work space in St. Paul, she said, and there are hundreds of people waiting to get in.
Many artist housing projects are subsidized by low-income tax credits or historic building tax credits. Moorhouse said financing plans and rental rates haven't been worked out yet.