Renovation Story

Crown Center:
Blu Dot Headquarters

Renovation Story

Crown Center:
Blu Dot Headquarters

For years, the Crown Iron site was a contaminated, unattractive, underutilized property—a blight on the surrounding neighborhood. For nearly 100 years, a series of heavy industrial businesses had left a legacy of pollution from lead paint to contaminated soil. Decades of poor or deferred maintenance left the buildings in disrepair, unsuitable for human occupation. The dysfunctional building configuration had led to rudimentary and impractical floor plans.

As specialists in contaminated site redevelopment, Hillcrest Development understood the logistics of rehabilitating such a challenging property.

Today, the project is known as the Crown Center and houses a variety of professional, industrial, medical, and creative businesses. The property is a model for how the economic redevelopment of a blighted property can have a positive effect on its surrounding neighborhood.

Hillcrest Development redeveloped this decaying industrial space for the furniture design firm Blu Dot, creating a space that is modern, functional, and attractive. Once used to assemble military airplane wings during World War II, the factory space had suffered decades of heavy usage, poor maintenance, pollution, and damage. Now floor-to-ceiling glass separates individual office spaces, and unique conference room pods “float” in the center of the space. Specialized finishes were used to highlight the contrast between the dark exposed ceiling joists and the fine trusses, as well as to unify the various surface materials. The original steel cutting machine remains in the space as an architectural element. The glossy refinished concrete floor and exposed brick echo the historic nature of this once-industrial space while wood panels, shelving, and new skylights warm the space.

Address: 1321 Tyler Street NE, Minneapolis

Built: Circa 1920s-1970s

Building size: Approximately 161,500 SF

Prior uses: Heavy industrial, heavy manufacturing, WWII era airplane wing component manufacturing, auto repair

Abated contaminants: Environmental contaminants included asbestos-containing materials, lead-based paint, elevated metals and semi-volatile organic compounds (vapors) in the soil, and two underground storage tanks.

Grant support: To assist with environmental conditions, the project benefited from three grants:
• $835,460 awarded from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) in January 2007 and June 2008
• $690,000 awarded from the Metropolitan Council in January 2007
• $121,000 awarded from Hennepin County (ERF) in January 2007 and June 2007

February 2008 Hillcrest Development commenced environmental remediation and renovation of Property, and by August 2008 the first four tenants moved into Crown Center.

Fact: Over 10,000 tons of impacted soil were removed and replaced

Project awards:
• Finance and Commerce Top Construction Project of 2010
• 2010 NAIOP Awards of Excellence Winner, Phase II
• 2009 NAIOP Awards of Excellence Finalist, Phase I

For more information, contact Scott M. Tankenoff.