Photographs by Chad Holder and Caitlin Abrams
Kevin and Maggie Fairs
Kevin and Maggie Fairs
Snapshot: Kevin and Maggie Fairs.
Where: A loft in the North Loop.
Median home price: $295,000.
What’s to love: North Loop Wine & Spirits. “They know us so well, they’ll look after our dog, Lucy, when we come in for some wine tasting. That’s the kind of neighborhood store that you really grow quite attached to,” Kevin says.
North Loop’s Spyhouse parklet
It’s hardly a surprise that one of the hottest neighborhoods in Minneapolis of late is showing no signs of slowing down. The North Loop’s ever-growing retail and amenities, easy access to public transportation, and proximity to the river mean the neighborhood pretty much sells itself. “You don’t have to tell people so much about what’s going to be here because it’s already here,” says Fritz Kroll, an Edina Realty agent who has specialized in the downtown market for 15 years. The only thing the area needs more of is condos, which are in short supply. “It’s been close to 10 years since anything new was built because there was so much overbuilt and prices really tanked,” Kroll says. “The pricing now is high enough to justify new construction.” Already, several new downtown condo buildings have been announced, including the recently approved 40-story Alatus tower near the river, which promises 200 condos selling between $300,000 and more than $1 million. More announcements are expected by other developers this year.
With the median sales price in the North Loop at $232,000, an increase of 31.5 percent since 2011, Kroll says it’s difficult to find anything less than $300,000 for a one-bedroom studio. For those not familiar, the North Loop is home to big-name restaurants The Bachelor Farmer and Spoon and Stable, buzzy retailers MartinPatrick 3 and Askov Finlayson (home of the North hat), several grocery stores including Whole Foods and next year’s planned Trader Joe’s, plus a vibrant nightlife scene with JetSet and old-school faves like Monte Carlo and JD Hoyt’s. But don’t expect to find only empty nesters and young millennials here. It’s not uncommon to see families who live here pushing strollers in front of Sex World on their way to the dog park.
Kevin and Maggie Fairs recently relocated to Minneapolis from the West Village in New York, buying a condo in North Loop last summer. Kevin, a senior VP at BMO Harris Bank, walks to work. Maggie, a senior VP at Weber Shandwick, catches the bus to her office in Bloomington. On the weekends, the couple doesn’t need to leave the area to grocery shop, enjoy their favorite restaurant (Spoon and Stable) or to walk their dog, Lucy, at the park. “When we got here, everyone said we’d have to get a car, but we make do without it,” Kevin says. “The area is self-sufficient.”
Kroll says it’s cool that downtown isn’t generic like it once was. “People used to say, ‘We want to live downtown,’ and now people are asking for specific neighborhoods.”
St. Paul’s skyline (photo by Michael Hicks)
Each year, more millennials, empty nesters, and retirees go all in, livin’ the yard-free urban dream in St. Paul’s Lowertown. The ’hood was in the middle of a steady metamorphosis, from grungy artist’s outpost to hipster capital (declared USA Today a couple of years ago), then—Bam!—the Saints’ sunken gem of a stadium opened last spring, and just like that, sidewalks and restaurants regularly fill until there’s no damn place to park. Which makes it that much more of a coup that the Green Line terminates right here, across from the grand columns of the renovated 1913 Union Depot. Also: Lowertown’s first rooftop patio, with killer city and river views, will crown the Ox Cart Ale House this spring. The area’s first hotel (Hyatt Place), with the first rooftop swimming pool, will soon occupy the floors not holding commercial development or luxury apartments at Custom House, in the old art deco post office at Kellogg and Jackson. All the shiny firsts and regularly appearing new restaurants are right at home alongside the abundant and established indie character, like the century-old weekend farmers’ market, drunk uncle-style Kelly’s Depot and Golden’s Deli, a casual neighborhood hub. And really, is there any better place to be on a star-filled summer night than amid the tumbling brook, shade trees, and food trucks during a concert at Mears Park? With an average home sales price of $164,900 (up 30.4 percent since 2011), the pull is strong enough that families able to cram into (or find an exception to) the area’s standard two-bedroom condo are starting to give it a shot, too. Yard, schmard.
In walking distance of lots of restaurants, Walker Art Center, and an active park.
The hub of the action with busy retail, restos, and the Chain of Lakes.
Renovated, character-rich buildings give this longtime fave its urban edge.