Changes for Marcy-Holmes warehouse district on the horizon

The street frontage is composed of overgrown grass and dilapidated warehouse facades, but a recent spike in developer interest may change that.

The abandoned warehouse at 622 9th Street SE awaits demolition Thursday, Sept. 14. The building was formerly used by Despatch Oven Company and will be replaced by a five-story hotel.

Tiffany Bui

The abandoned warehouse at 622 9th Street SE awaits demolition Thursday, Sept. 14. The building was formerly used by Despatch Oven Company and will be replaced by a five-story hotel.

by Tiffany Bui

Tucked away on the west side of Marcy-Holmes is a sprawling block of abandoned, aging warehouses that have recently caught the attention of several developers.

The 9th Street Industrial area, bordered by 8th Street Southeast to the south and railroad tracks to the north, is removed from Dinkytown and the surrounding residential cluster. A slew of project applications for new housing and business space is seeking to make the area more of a destination. 

Both Marcy-Holmes and the City of Minneapolis acknowledge the region has outlived its historic purpose as a manufacturing corridor. In anticipation for redevelopment, revitalization plans have long been road mapped by the neighborhood. 

“We laid out a pretty clear vision for what the neighborhood would like to see happen along 9th Street, and that involved a lot of encouraging small creative entrepreneurial business and getting a mix of live-work accommodation and housing,” said John Capecci, vice president of Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association. “We just saw it as a really unique part of the neighborhood with a lot of potential.”

These aspirations have slowly been coming into fruition. Small incubator businesses have set up offices across from the industrial frontage. The Spectrum apartment complex moved in last year ahead of recent housing proposals. 

“You look at it on the surface, and it [felt] –10, 20 years ago – [like] a bit of a wasteland of buildings that’s been underutilized. And now realizing it’s kind of in the center of a lot different activity, people were willing to take another look at it,” said Chris Lautenschlager, MHNA executive director.

Progress for some of the pending developments are inching along. The City’s Historic Preservation Commission approved North Bay Company’s demolition application for a warehouse at 620 9th St. SE. on Sept. 11. North Bay plans to develop a hotel and apartment on the lot. 

Senior City Planner for Minneapolis Mei-Ling Smith said that while many development applications involve a rigorous process, the fact that the area is no longer actively industrial may work in developers’ favor. In North Bay’s case, it is unlikely they will need to rezone, which is one less application in the process. 

“I think developers like to have as few hoops to jump through as possible. Hopefully they are looking at the parcels that are already guided for and zoned for multi-family use if that’s what they want to do,” said Smith. 

Underdeveloped land, like the 9th Street Industrial Area, is common in areas around the University of Minnesota. The opportunities this land presents developers in Marcy-Holmes mirrors the landscape of areas in Prospect Park, Lautenschlager said. 

“There are not many sections of underutilized land in the City of Minneapolis anymore,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Capecci is hopeful that the surge of interest will bring even more creative minds to the area. 

“I think there’s a way that we can preserve what’s unique about that area. It’s this really interesting mix of longtime residents, new residents and new businesses,” said Capecci.  “That’s what really makes any neighborhood vibrant is when you have a healthy mix … and not just monoculture.”