The Mill District in Minneapolis Offers High-End Loft-Style Living

Once the world’s largest center for producing wheat flour, the Mill District, which sits by the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis, is an urban regeneration success story.

During the 19th century, the wheat milling industry was centered along the Mississippi’s western banks, which is now the site of the neighborhood. By the mid-20th century the industry had moved out of the city and its buildings were abandoned and left to rot.   

Then in the 1990s, after it was earmarked as a place with development potential, the renovation of its decaying behemoths started, providing much-needed new city-center homes, while revitalizing the downtown area. As a result, population growth in downtown Minneapolis has soared, increasing from 31,844 in 2006 to 49,721 in 2018, according to the Minneapolis Downtown Council.

Today, the area is known for its grand industrial architecture, riverside parks and expensive loft-style homes that appeal to empty nesters who previously lived in the city suburbs. And with the Eleven development, a 42-story riverside condo tower built in the district, the Mill District now has the bragging rights of being home to the city’s tallest residential tower and some of its most high-end homes.

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Boundaries

Measuring just three blocks by nine blocks, the Mill District, is a small sliver of land in the Downtown East neighborhood. The area’s western edge runs along the banks of the Mississippi River. Third Avenue marks its northern boundary, Washington Avenue is on the western edge and 12th Avenue makes up its southern border.

Price Range

A one-bedroom condo can cost from between $400,000 and $750,000 and if you are looking for more space, the average two-bedroom home, measuring around 2,100 square feet, will cost around $800,000.  Some of downtowns most exclusive properties are found in the mill district and a recent top floor penthouse at the Washburn Lofts building closed for just under $7 million dollars.  If you want your next home to be in Minneapolis' Gold Coast, there is a myriad of home styles ranging from polished modern condos that have the feel of a spacious suburban luxury home to urban loft spaces that will take you back to a New York state of mind.

The market has experienced steady growth over the past five years, and with recent sales, there are no signs of property devaluation...records continue to be beat in every building and its clear, the Mill District is an excellent value for long term appreciation regardless of how the broader market is performing.

Housing Stock

The area’s huge former mills have been converted into loft-style apartments. New condominium and rental buildings stand on the sites of old parking lots. Most developments include gyms, secure parking, balconies and communal terraces.  

Homes in converted industrial buildings with original features are the most sought-after. Whitney Lofts, a former hotel on the riverfront, which was originally a flour mill built in 1879, and North Star Lofts, which was the site of the North Star Woolen Company’s textile mill, where wool blankets were produced, are always in demand.

Washburn Lofts, built in 1914 and converted into lofts in the 2000s, is popular too, as is the award winning 36-unit Humboldt Lofts, which is made up of old and new structures and has views of the river, a rooftop deck, community room and ground-floor restaurant.

Due to its small footprint and mostly low-density housing, finding a home for sale here is not easy. New condos are in short supply, and when they do come on the market they sell quickly. 

As a resident of the Mill District since 2019, Shane Spencer said, "It is a fabulous neighborhood with so much to offer.  Everyone that I've met over the years from various buildings throughout our neighborhood loves the lifestyle and all of the conveniences that come with this location."  

Luxury Amenities

The neighborhood’s top dining offerings include many healthy eating options, from Farmer's Kitchen, a restaurant which sits on the plaza opposite the Guthrie Theater supports the minnesota farming community and serves local ingredients and delicious fare; Kindee, a very popular Thai restaurant; Izakaya, a Japanese bar and kitchen; and more restaurants coming in the future.

Milwaukee Road Depot, a historic railroad depot and parking lot complex which shut down in the 1970s, was reused as a skating rink and water park in the 1990s and has since been turned into the two hotels, the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot—which features an events space called Milwaukee Road—and the Residence Inn Minneapolis Downtown at Depot.  

There are no luxury goods shops, but the neighborhood has a posh bookshop and cafe, Milkweed Books, and is half a mile from the shopping area of Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis.  It is two miles from the trendy North Loop area, which has the outdoor clothing shop Askov Finlayson and the incredible shopping environment at Martin Patrick 3 for all of your designer clothing and home furnishing needs.

More:Click to view luxury properties for sale in Minneapolis' Mill District

Culture abounds at the Jean Nouvel-designed Guthrie Theater, a center for performances and education. The nearby ruined Washburn "A" Mill now houses the Mill City Museum, the illuminated Gold Medal Flour sign and MacPhail Center for Music, all of which overlook St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge.

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, which owns the parks along the riverfront, opened the James Beard award-winning riverside restaurant, Owamni, run by The Sioux Chef, an indigenous food education and catering team.

In addition, there are plenty of places to run, walk and cycle along the river. The Mill Ruins Park shows the ruins of several flour mills and other industrial relics, while the 7.5-acre Gold Medal Park, which features a large mound with a spiral walkway, offers a relaxing green space. It hosts free yoga sessions and is ideal for dog walking.

The Minnesota Vikings football team plays at the U.S Bank Stadium, built in 2016. The stadium hosted Super Bowl LII, and is steps from the Mill District, making this neighborhood a fan favorite.

The Fair School, which has a campus in downtown Minneapolis and is about 1.5 miles from the Mills District, is for students from kindergarten to 12th grade. DeLaSalle High School is a Catholic prep high school on Nicollet Island, which is less than a mile from the Mills District.

What Makes it Unique

Much of the neighborhood’s appeal is owed to its rich industrial character. Heritage buildings have been renovated to provide new homes or incorporated into all-new structures, while the riverfront has been redeveloped and turned into parkland, providing scenic water views and open green space.

Since it’s in downtown Minneapolis, it’s a convenient spot for those working in the city center. Yet it has a community feel. Locals can socialize and buy fresh fruit and vegetables from the Saturday Mill City Farmers Market on its plaza, and dine in local restaurants.

Outlook

Prices have grown in the Mill District because it is a desirable neighborhood with a limited inventory.  There is only one parcel of land left to develop along Washington Avenue and plans have been approved by the city for a mixed use building.  Ask any agent and they will tell you the Mill District is prime living along the Mississippi riverfront and there's a reason it is labelled as Minneapolis' Gold Coast.  The future is bright for residents of the Mill District...and property appreciation will continue to rise into the future.

 

 

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