Archive North Loop Pile Driving

Another Surface Parking Lot Bites the Dust

This morning, the North Loop was awoken by the sweet sound of pile driving as the Archive project started construction on a surface parking lot near the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. The surface parking lot is one of the last in the area, with several being redeveloped in the last ten years into mixed-use properties.

Archive North Loop Pile Driving

Nothing beats the sound of pile driving in the morning! Photo: Author

The project will not reduce net parking on the property, there will be 240 parking spaces with three floors of underground parking to serve the 198 residential units and approximately 6,000 square feet of ground floor commercial/retail, although the developer is now advertising 7,000 square feet renting, so the true amount may be larger. The underground garage is accessible via Azine Way, the street between 1st St N and the Federal Reserve.

You can see on this satellite image from April 28, 2018, that after the Archive project is complete, there will be only a few surface parking lots left in the area. The Federal reserve is proposing to build a 800-stall parking ramp on one remaining lot, which is both bad for the climate and bad for commuting workers.

Archive North Loop Satellite Image

A view of the south end of the North Loop with the Archive project outlined in pink. Photo: Google, 4/28/2018

One of the highlights of the Archive project is a covered pedestrian walkway that will connect 1st St N to Azine Way. The building continues above the pedestrian walkway, creating a multi-story skyway between masses. I appreciate the effort to make the property fit into the character of the surrounding neighborhood and increase walkability between blocks. There is a similar pedestrian walkway with building above at the Brunsfield North Loop on Washington Ave N, but that walkway only connects Washington to a seating area for the apartments and Spyhouse Coffee and not another street. There is a driveway, an alley, and more parking blocking the way to a full connection.

Archive North Loop Render

Two connected buildings with a pedestrian walkway in between.

Archive North Loop South Elevation

The building almost gives vibes of a small Nicollet Hotel Block.

For retail, there is about 6,000-7,000 square feet of commercial space with floor-to-ceiling windows on the street front, similar to the Maverick on Hennepin Ave. One can imagine yet another Spyhouse or Starbucks Coffee, clothing retail, or maybe even co-working space.

Archive North Loop Signage

The developer is advertising 900 to 7,000 square feet of commercial space. Photo: Author

The whole project is advertised to be complete in “late 2020”. You can check out the full project docs with CPED here.

What do you think of the Archive project? What would you design into your ideal mixed-use development in a downtown or mid-rise area? Share your ideas in the comments!



14 thoughts on “Another Surface Parking Lot Bites the Dust

  1. James Schoettler

    Does anybody know if architects still exist, or do developers just go to Amazon and purchase the cheapest, dullest, most common design they can find?

    1. Matt SteeleMatt

      This looks like an extremely classy and timeless design. What, specifically, don’t you like about it?

      1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

        Yeah I don’t get it. This seems like a nice reflection of the materials and styles of the neighborhood, but obviously in a form that meets modern-day needs. I don’t know what’s not to like.

        1. James Schoettler

          Matt & Sean,
          It’s another dark square dull box with windows, just like many others being built around the Twin Cities. The little old nineteenth century building to the left in the drawing has a lot more attractiveness. You would think that in the twenty-first century we could have advanced a bit and developed better design concepts.
          And you would think that there might be an architect with design creativity who understood materials, form, color, massing and other characteristics they should have learned in architecture school.
          Maybe I am misdirecting my criticism; perhaps it’s the the developers who lack vision and don’t care about aesthetics.

          1. Michael RodenMichael Roden

            Architect here. Dude, c’mon.

            You’re right; the budget, materials, and aesthetics of the building is largely driven by the developer.
            This is a brick building. In Minneapolis. Being built in 2019. Have you not seen all the EIFS and extruded metal panels popping up literally everywhere? Brick is definitely not the cheapest or the dullest material possible. There are very practical, environmental, and budgetary reasons that those materials are so popular, but brick is great and very expensive to use.
            Buildings are complicated, man. Architects do so much more than make a pretty picture and snap their fingers. Literally thousands of man-hours are going to go in to building that building.
            That building to the left was built with highly skilled, lowly paid immigrants from eastern europe in the turn of the last century. Sorry dude, it’s not gonna happen in today’s reality.
            Armchair critics are so boring.

          2. Dan

            I would rather see a dozen more somewhat plain (compared to 19th century levels of ornamentation) but fundamentally well-designed buildings like this one than another building with neon multicolored panels and ‘playfully’ misaligned windows and nonsensical massing to creating ‘visual interest’ or the impression of more smaller buildings in a vain attempt to hide the fact that buildings are fundamentally boxes with windows. Though I don’t think this development is quite as attractive as the one going up just north of the Freehouse, It fits in well with the existing architecture of the neighborhood, has a good relationship with the streetscape, and even creates a new pedestrian space between the buildings…

  2. Elizabeth Larey

    I just want to add a note here, which i realize most people won’t care about. I am an older single woman, and I used to go downtown all the time for dinner to meet friends. I parked in the surface lots, because i was worried about parking in ramps after dark for safety issues. The best one was across from Zelo. I had dinner downtown and went to the Dakota. When that one is gone, I probably won’t go downtown anymore. I sure understand the property is more valuable for high rises. Just makes me sad won’t be able to go anymore. I tried Lyft, but I had a couple of creepy drivers. Guess I’’m getting old!!

    1. Karl

      I’m sorry you have so many “safety concerns.”

      There is still a surface lot along the west side of Marquette between 9th & 10th Street. With your “safety concerns” though, I would recommend the monitored parking ramps on LaSalle- both the “Target” ramp (NE corner of 10th & LaSalle) and my favorite place to park downtown on winter weekends when I need to- the US Bancorp garage between 8th & 9th that puts you in the skyway across the street from Zelo and 1.5 blocks in the skyway to the Dakota.

    2. Andrew Evans

      Elizabeth Larey

      We usually use the ramp off of 10th and Marquette when going to the Dakota. It’s reasonably priced, and at least to us seems safe enough. It’s a little more off the beaten path than the ones around the west of downtown.

      There is also, I believe, a Target ramp in the building across the street to the North. Not sure price wise, but I think it’s connected by the skyway. Although it’s been many years since I’ve parked there.

      For what it’s worth.

  3. James D

    Even after all the surface lots are gone there will still be street parking. Why can’t that work for you?

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