Defunct warehouse becomes apartments

Northstar at Siebert Field is an old building converted into high-end housing.

by Vadim Lavrusik

After decades of being abandoned and defunct, an old steel-mill warehouse near Dinkytown will be converted into a high-end apartment complex.

The soon-to-be 23-unit apartment complex, Northstar at Siebert Field, is located on 8th Street Southeast and scheduled to be completed in early June.

With original brick walls and timber beams, the apartments have two, four and five bedrooms, featuring a studio feel at a starting cost of $720 per bedroom.

Before construction began, the warehouse had to be rezoned from industrial to residential. Most surrounding neighborhood leaders supported the rezoning of the warehouse because it had been defunct since the 1960s and now can be used to ease some of the rental housing demands near Dinkytown.

Greg Jansma, owner and operator of Shelby Jackson LLC, the company that owns the building, bought the warehouse with his business partner, Mike Johnson, more than a year ago for $800,000.

Jansma, who doesn’t normally invest in large projects, said he got a great price for the warehouse and wanted it oriented toward students.

“Students are easy to work with,” he said. “And this is my favorite part of town.”

He said he and his business partner invested more than $2 million in the conversion of the warehouse, adding two floors to the already two-story warehouse. The warehouse also has a garden-level basement, totaling five floors of apartments.

With the addition of thick cement floors and soundproof windows, he said the building will be quiet despite being next to a baseball field and railroad tracks.

“Listen, you hear that?” he said. “I didn’t think so, and that’s the point.”

Despite high rent prices, he said students pay for quality, comparing his complex to 1301 University. “You’re paying good money but you get a lot,” he said.

Some students seemed to agree.

Biology sophomore Emily Bergling said she lives in Dinnaken now, but signed her lease to live in Northstar next year because she wanted to live closer to Dinkytown.

She said although it is more expensive, the new apartments looked much nicer than other apartments she looked at.

Plus, it’s new, she said.

“I think the whole layout is nice with really wide hallways and open ceilings,” she said. “It’s not like the dorms.”

Zoning rezoned

Jansma worked with neighborhood groups in the area to get feedback on concerns they may have with the project

before construction began.

Jo Radzwill, chairwoman of the land use committee for the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, said the group’s only request was for the apartment complex to offer half a parking spot per every bedroom in the building, which Jansma fulfilled.

Although the warehouse was in an industrial-zoned area, it wasn’t being used, so the association supported the project, she said.

“We definitely support the reuse of old buildings,” she said.

But because the area of industrial-zoned land is shrinking in Minneapolis, the building brings up a broader concern.

James De Sota, Southeast Como Improvement Association neighborhood coordinator, said the warehouse is part of some of the last remaining areas that are zoned for industrial “job creation,” but the association supported the project.

“There are only so many of those kind of structures that can be converted before we lose the ability to once again reinvent and actually have job creation going on,” he said.

He said deciding how much land should be rezoned from industrial to residential is a “balancing act,” especially if the land isn’t being used.

It took the city 10 months to rezone the property.