The 47-acre island and the adjacent East Hennepin commercial district offer a little bit of everything: the very old and the brand new, commercial failures and market successes, detached houses and housing in towers, restored historic buildings and lasting historic institutions (including a Polka bar), and a developing public landscape along the riverfront.
Nicollet Island, named after an early 19th-century French scientist-explorer, is now completely changed from its historic role as an industrial area with a smattering of low-rent worker's houses. Splendidly refurbished, these late-19th-century houses, located on the island's north end, are now home to some of the city's elite. Industrial uses on the south end have been removed in favor of an expansive city park. In between are De La Salle High School, which has occupied its site for more than a century, the boutique Nicollet Island Inn, and the restored Grove Street Flats, the architectural star of the island. Unsurprisingly, the district's median family income also changed radically, from well below the citywide average before all these changes, to way above today.
Riverplace, a failed 1980s festival marketplace is located on the East Bank, just across a narrow channel of the Mississippi. Its residential towers formed a critical mass of housing for the recently built apartments and townhouses centered around First Avenue NE and 2nd Street NE. The festival program, which bombed in most U.S. cities, has been succeeded by an eclectic mixture of offices, retail, and restaurants, which merge almost seamlessly into the Main Place development east of Central Avenue. Other than the placid residential precinct on the north tip of Nicollet Island, this area is pretty active, with substantial traffic on the major streets. But it is also well served by multiple bus lines, and convenient to both Downtown and the University.
Calumet Lofts, 127 5th Street NE, Minneapolis
This small-scale commercial building dating from 1913 was recently converted into residential loft spaces. Wood structure and brick walls are exposed in living units, which have concrete floors. This is very basic space, in effect, an empty palette from which to establish a personalized interior. Calumet Lofts is located within the East Hennepin commercial district and its restaurants, and is one block from frequent bus service to the University and to Downtown, both ten minutes away.
Cobalt Condominiums, 45 University Avenue SE, Minneapolis
Cobalt Condominiums is a chic, streamlined, and ultra-modern building set amongst the happening and lively area of East Hennepin. Nearby are numerous retail shops, fashionable restaurants, and a Lund’s grocery story is located on the ground floor of the building which makes last minute shopping for food easy. The building is located across the river from Downtown and one mile from the University. Living units are sold as shells which allow owners utmost choices when designing a layout and when decorating with their own unique style.
Durkee Atwood Lofts, 215 7th Street NE, Minneapolis
Durkee Atwood Lofts is a 1920's industrial building that has been remade into economical living spaces. The building is located within walking distance of East Hennepin and the historic Riverfront. This means that inviting shops, trendy restaurants, and attractions such as the new Guthrie are minutes away. It is also a block from Central Avenue which offers frequent public transportation to Downtown, the University, and countless jobs in Northeast Minneapolis.
The Falls and Pinnacle 20 2nd Street NE/110 First Avenue NE, Minneapolis
Like the neighboring La Rive, The Falls and Pinnacle were part of the 1980s Riverplace development along historic Main Street, right across the Mississippi from Downtown. Reflecting the architecture of that era, the conjoined towers are sculptural, their visual effect enhanced by deep balcony reveals. These buildings were renovated in 2005 in anticipation of conversion to condos, so lobby spaces and shared facilities like the expansive fitness club and indoor pool are updated and stylish. Living units are offered at lower-than-average square-foot prices, especially considering their lively East Hennepin location, with nearby restaurants and signature retailers Lund's and Surdyk's
The Archive, 708 Central Avenue NE
Under development in 2007, The Archive adopts the New Urbanism ideal of living units above street-level storefronts. The site is at the crossing of Hennepin and Central (thus convenient to virtually continuous bus service) occupying both the head of the lively East Hennepin commercial district and the gateway to Northeast Minneapolis: Central Avenue. Numerous restaurants and Lund's groceries are within a short walk, and Downtown is ten minutes by bus.
Village of St. Anthony Falls, 101 Main Street NE, Minneapolis
This substantial seven-story building was constructed in 2004, yet it has the presence of a fine prewar apartment near Chicago's Lake Shore Drive. Living units are large and gracious; some of the floor plans are appealingly irregular, and, of course, units provide high-end amenities and finishes. The Bridgehead location enjoys direct access to Downtown, and an East Bank setting offers an array of restaurants and the new Lund's grocery store.