The Baker Importing Company, now the Smyth Lofts, is one of the smaller historic warehouses in the Minneapolis Warehouse Historic District. Hess Roise led the historic tax credit process for the developer, a key tool in renovating the property.
The Baker Importing Company property was built in phases, beginning in 1885 with a red brick building designed by prominent Minneapolis architect William Channing Whitney. In 1900 the Baker Importing Company moved its wholesale coffee-roasting operation into the building. The rise in the popularity of instant coffee after World War I led the firm to construct a large addition in 1919 that doubled the building’s footprint. Designed by local firm Bertrand and Chamberlin, the addition used a reinforced-concrete structure with brick walls. The Baker Importing Company occupied the building until 1971. A furniture company occupied the building for most of the 1970s until Greg Campbell purchased the property and moved his Campbell-Logan Bindery into the building. Over the next four decades, the building housed the bindery, artists’ lofts and studios, and retail spaces.
As industrial uses left the North Loop in the late twentieth century, commercial and residential tenants took their place. The owners of the Baker Importing Company building decided to sell the property for redevelopment.
Renovating a 130-year-old building brought challenges. Hess Roise worked closely with the project team on plans for new retail spaces and apartment units. A new deck and clubroom on the roof provide amazing views of the city. Bricked-in storefronts and windows were reopened, giving the building a more welcoming presence on North Second Street.