In the late 1980s, the City of Saint Paul invited Artspace to redevelop a six-story warehouse built in 1908 by the Northern Pacific Railway. The result was the Northern Warehouse Artists’ Cooperative, which opened in 1990 and served as a catalyst for the economic and cultural growth of downtown Saint Paul’s struggling Lowertown neighborhood. The Northern was not only Artspace’s first project, it was also the first in the nation to use Low Income Housing Tax Credits for artist housing.
The Northern offers 52 affordable live/work units (some of them as large as 2,000 square feet) for artists and their families on its upper four floors. The lower two floors provide office, studio and commercial space for nonprofit arts organizations, commercial artists and other tenants, including a coffeehouse and an art gallery.
The Northern and the neighboring Tilsner Artists’ Cooperative, completed by Artspace in 1993, ignited a spectacular renaissance in Lowertown, now Saint Paul’s hottest neighborhood for galleries, restaurants and cultural activity. Just across the street, the Saint Paul Farmer’s Market enlivens weekend mornings, and a new light rail station stands just two blocks away.
In 2011, Artspace refinanced the Northern, using a new round of Low Income Housing Tax Credits to pay for more energy-efficient windows, a new roof and tuckpointing of the building’s distinctive brown brick façade. The refinancing guarantees Artspace’s first project will remain affordable for the artists who helped revive Lowertown for an additional 30 years.
DJR Architecture, Inc.
Housing and Redevelopment Authority of the City of Saint PaulMinnesota State Historic Tax CreditsWNC Associates
F.R. Bigelow FoundationMinnesota Historical SocietySaint Paul Cultural STAR ProgramThe Saint Paul Foundation
“When the spirit in your building revolves around art and you see it every day and hear it through the walls and doorways, it just pushes you to improve and pursue your own art.”
— Matthew Rucker, Artist
The Northern Warehouse Artists' Cooperative, NWAC, is a vibrant home and workspace for artists in Saint Paul's Lowertown. Our members are writers, art teachers, dancers, designers, filmmakers, musicians, painters, potters, poets, photographers and more. For over 20 years, NWAC has made a commitment to providing affordable live/work spaces for artists. Our co-op functions through member participation. This ranges from serving on committees or the board of directors, to facilitating daily operations by recycling or preparing units for new members.
The Northern features 52 affordable live/work units (some of them as large as 2,000 square feet) for artists and their families on its upper four floors.
The Northern features two floors (54,500 square feet) of commercial space, which is home to galleries, non-profit organizations and a coffee shop/wine bar.
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