The Pillsbury A Mill was once the largest flour mill in the world, capable of producing up to 17,000 barrels of flour a day. The mill, located in Minneapolis, sat vacant once milling operations halted in 2003 and a proposed condo project failed to get off the ground with the housing bust in 2011.

By 2013, when Dominium bought the complex, it was plagued with structural issues and had been worn down by weather. The Plymouth, Minn.-based company planned an extensive historic renovation to create a community that overlooks the Mississippi River.

The developer gave the National Historic Landmark a $151 million upgrade into 251 affordable artist lofts and renamed the complex the A-Mill Artist Lofts.

The buildings, which were built in the 1880s through 1900, were originally constructed to use water power with water wheels. The developers are exploring ways to preserve the use of hydroelectricity by using the existing infrastructure with upgraded, modern equipment designed for renewable energy.

“We are in the process of getting regulatory approval for construction of the hydroelectric facility at the A-Mill to reduce our carbon footprint, and to provide clean, renewable energy for up to 70% of the building’s needs,” says development associate Neal Route. “Although the project is expensive, we are willing to invest in green energy to preserve our environment for future generations.”

Additionally, as the developers began gutting the building, the infrastructure began to show more and more decay. So a full-time architect was designated to the site to tackle problems as construction moved forward. The exteriors of the buildings also posed problems because the limestone and brick façade of one of the buildings was altered over the years and needed to be repaired while still meeting the historic requirements.

The units range from studios to four-bedrooms with rents from $859 to $1,422 and were built for residents with 60% of the area median income.

The project, slated to come to completion this summer, will be 100% leased by opening. 

Project Details

Developer: Dominium
Architect: BKV Group
Major Funders: City of Minneapolis; Hennepin County; Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development; Metropolitan Council; Affordable Housing Partners, a Berkshire Hathaway Company; U.S. Bank; Cornerstone Real Estate Advisors