Architecture & Construction

The Lowry Condos - St. Paul

The historic Lower Professional Building was originally built in 1912 with 14 floors above ground and a total heigh of 192 feet.  This architectural gem was renovated in 2005 with extensive remodeling to floors 3 through 12 which now house 131 condo units.

The Lower Condos are beautifully appointed in a loft style with concrete or terrazzo floors, large windows and exposed HVAC ductwork.  The building is also home to office, retail and restaurant tenants led by Pazzaluna Restaurant - featuring some of St. Paul's finest Italian cuisine.


Reggie Award goes to Norton Homes

In October 2012, our long time building partner, Norton Homes, was awarded a Reggie from the Builders Association of the Twin Cities.reggie_award_image_204 This coveted award has been given to Top Minneapolis & St. Paul Builders for more than 40 years and is awarded based on judging by peer-teams of Builders who determine the best examples of excellence in quality, design, value, and construction.

Norton Homes competed in one of the ultra-competitive upper brackets and received the Reggie Award for its  model home in Eden Prairie's prestigeous Enclave neighborhood. We are so proud of Chris Norton for his hard work and dedication to delivering homes of exceptional quality and design!  From starter homes to luxury homes, Contact Us about building your new custom designed home with Norton Homes!


Healthier Indoor Air Radon Mitigation Standards Pushed for New Homes Constructed in Minnesota

Rules for mitigating radon gas inside homes constructed in Minnesota are some of the strictest in the nation, but the state Department of Health, concerned the rules don't go far enough, has a new request for builders.

Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless gas that can be found in soils throughout the United States, including Minnesota. Much like the name suggests, radon is also radioactive. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as many as 800 Minnesotans die each year from radon-induced lung cancer.

Though passive radon vents are already required by Minnesota law, the State Department of Health (MDH) is now asking builders to voluntarily install attic fans that can more actively draw out the toxic gas. So far, only a few builders have signed on to the MDH program. The agency even offers discounts on radon-venting fans to builders if they agree to install them in all of the new homes they build.

Few prospective home buyers are probably thinking about radon poisoning when touring their potential new home. They are more likely to be more concerned about details like hardwood floors and available kitchen storage space. However, a home's radon risk should be of concern, especially for families with children. And though Minnesota's building code is intended to remove some of the burden on homeowners for dealing with radon by requiring all new houses to have a radon-venting pipe, they may not exist in homes built before the code was passed in 2009.

But James Kelly, supervisor of the indoor air program at the health department, says the vents aren't perfect because they rely on the passive movement of air.

"It's like venting a chimney. In some cases your chimney works better than others. Some days, if the wind isn't quite right, you don't get enough draw," he said. "If you add the fan, you're creating a little bit of suction and actually getting pressure in...

Piece of Minnesota History for Sale

vasachildrenshome_400An impressive home that had a role in Minnesota history is for sale in Vasa, MN. The Barker & Hedges Team with Re/Max Results, a leader in the Twin Cities real estate market, is the listing agent for this meticulously restored house that once served as Lutheran Social Services Vasa Children’s Home.

The home can be found at 15251 Old Children’s Home Road in Vasa, Minnesota. Constructed in 1899, this house was the dormitory for the Vasa Children’s Home for 27 years. In 1926, the group moved to a new location, and the property was used for many purposes, included as a grain storage facility for local farmers.

In 1968, the previous owners purchased the Vasa Children’s Home, the remaining structures and acreage. They immediately began their work of restoring both soundness and beauty to it. Over a period of eight years, they disassembled deteriorating buildings and integrating many recovered materials into renovations within the home's interior. When the work was finished, the building had been converted into a seven bedroom, three bathroom home with a about 5,000-square-feet of interior space. The home had about 34½ acres of land surrounding it.

In 1974, the newly remodeled home and land were purchased by the current owners. They transformed the charming country home into a magnificent country estate, complete with landscaping, perennial gardens, a pond and an orchard, all behind a security gate and maintenance-free fence. A heated six car garage was built on the land with an attached green house. What was once a bunk house is now a three car garage, which...

Minnesota: Snow Buildup Puts Roofs At Risk

Officials in Saint Paul and other Twin Cities communities are warning about roof safety following record snowfall in December and more precipitation likely to come soon.

"There isn't only the potential problem of leaking from growing ice dams, but there is also the real potential for structural roof collapse," Ricardo Cervantes, director of the city's Department of Safety and Inspections, said in a statement. "The impending water retention from rainfall, particularly on large flat roofs, will only compound the problem."

The Department of Safety and Inspections said people should use caution when removing ice dams and snow from roofs. If it is not done properly, the integrity of the roof could be put at risk. Additionally, clearing a roof is dangerous even for the most experienced homeowner. Calling on a professional to perform the work should be a serious consderation.

At Regions Hospital in St. Paul, five people were admitted in late December after falling from roofs. The injuries have included fractures of the spine, elbow and pelvis. Two people died.

Places to monitor snow buildup include around combustion air intakes, gas meters and hazards from large icicles. Keep exit doors and windows free of ice and snow so they can be used during an emergency.

Twin Cities area fire departments also recently asked for the public's help in digging out the metro area's many fire hydrants. There should be at least a foot clear around hydrants, down to the ground and out to the street. This simple act can save both lives and property.


Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture Tour

On Saturday, May 1, 2010, eight houses and one church in Twin Cities communities will be featured on an all-day bus tour organized by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. Three of the homes were designed by Wright himself. The others are the work of Wright's colleagues, proteges or other prominent mid-century modern architects who were influenced by his style.

"These are all private homes that haven't been open since the tour here 10 years ago," said architect Tim Quigley, of Quigley Architects, who's a member of the conservancy board.

In the early 1930s, Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most renowned architects in the world. He was the creater of Prairie School architecture.


Dinky Dome Project Wins Top Best in Real Estate Award

An apartment building and renovation of the historic Dinky Dome near the University of Minnesota has received an award. It was named as the Best Overall project in this year’s Best in Real Estate awards, handed out each year by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal.

The $38.6 million project being developed in Saint Paul by Kelly Doran, principal of Bloomington-based Doran Cos., also won the award for the Best Multifamily Development and Redevelopment – Market Rate.

The judges liked the Sidney Hall project because it preserved the historic Dinky Dome and enhanced the neighborhood. It also filled a need in the market. The building’s 125 apartments are 80 percent pre-leased and major tenants in the retail space include CVS Pharmacy, Wells Fargo Bank and Ebert & Gerberts. Finally, the projec created much-needed construction jobs during the economic downturn and housing slump.

See the full list of Best In Real Estate winners at Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal.


Saint Paul's Penfield Development Back on the Table... Again!

The Penfield development proposed for the northwest corner of the intersection at E. 10th and Robert streets in downtown St. Paul has been stalled for years. Now, a new proposal calls on the St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) to take control of the project and make a scaled-down version of the project happen.

The HRA wants to take advantage of Build America Bonds made available through the federal stimulus program. The HRA would use $48 million of bonding money. HUD would guarantee the bonds. About $3.6 million in proceeds from a special taxing district also would be used, as well as $1.7 million in grants.

Instead of building a 40-story condo and hotel project, the proposed 11-story Penfield tower would hold 216 rental housing units, house a 30,000-square-foot Lunds supermarket and over 300 parking spaces. The building would have a green roof.

Dick Zehring, board chairman of the Greater St. Paul Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), said he believes the city is right to take advantage of bonds available now.

"It's a great use of those funds because it creates construction jobs, but it also has a lasting impact on downtown," he said.

In addition to city approval, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would have to sign off the project.


City of Saint Paul is Going Green

With eyes set to the future, the city of St. Paul is moving forward with green building requirements for new construction projects that receive $200,000 or more in city funding.

An advisory group of architects, designers, contractors, developers, bankers, regulatory agencies, city staff and other industry representatives worked for more than two years to develop the city's new sustainable building policy. Under it, building projects that receive at least $200,000 in city loans, grants or "other funding vehicles" must meet green building standards as defined by one of seven rating systems to satisfy the requirements. A partial list of approved rating systems includes LEED Silver or Green Globes 2 for commercial projects or LEED for Homes or Minnesota GreenStar for residential construction.

Specific policy requirements include meeting Minnesota Sustainable Building 2030 energy standards for new buildings, beating EPA standards for potable water use by at least 30 percent, and using 50 percent less water for landscaping compared to a traditionally irrigated site.

In addition, at least 75 percent of the construction waste, including demolition materials, must be recycled "or otherwise diverted from landfills. " Other requirements apply to things such as indoor air quality and stormwater management.

St. Paul is the first city in Minnesota to adopt such a measure. The policy is intended to help Saint Paul reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 7% below 1990 levels by 2012, in accordance with the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.

St. Paul is home to more than 20 LEED-certified or registered buildings, including the Western District Police Station and a new fire department headquarters on West 7th Street.

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