The Schmidt Brewery turned out suds and provided jobs for nearly a century in St. Paul, Minn., before the last kegs of Grain Belt and Pig’s Eye rolled out of the building in 2002.
After a brief, unsuccessful stint as an ethanol plant, the site sat vacant for a decade, becoming one of Minnesota’s “10 most endangered historic places.” Given the building’s expansive footprint and design as a brewery, redevelopment options were scarce.
Dominium, an experienced affordable housing developer, took on the large redevelopment effort to create Schmidt Artist Lofts. Instead of crying in their beer, the team put in years of work to rehabilitate the brewhouse and bottling house into 247 affordable, loft-style units. Thirteen townhomes have been added to provide 260 total units. The studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom homes are reserved for residents earning no more than 50 percent and 60 percent of the area median income.
“The building was about as far from a housing design as you can imagine for a starting point,” says Owen Metz, project developer.
The team took advantage of the building’s natural light, high ceilings, and unique character. The property’s history lends each unit its own layout and personality.
Dominium designed the development with St. Paul’s thriving artist community in mind. As a result, the project features extensive gallery and studio space for artist residents to paint, sculpt, and perform.
Financing for the $122 million project included low-income housing tax credits, historic tax credits, tax-exempt bonds, and a number of different grants to cover environmental cleanup and redevelopment.
Meeting the demand for affordable housing while preserving one of the city’s iconic buildings was the best use for the site, Metz says.