Flagship project to bring upscale distillery and apartments downtown | Local News


The 102-year-old Landmark Building is set to get bigger and bigger to make way for Mankato’s first distillery, as well as a lounge bar and 33 upscale apartments.

The region’s premier micro-distillery, featuring locally produced whiskeys and gins, a lounge bar, event center and 33 upscale apartments, highlights a planned $ 12 million development for downtown Mankato.

The project centers on a complete renovation of the 102-year-old Landmark building at the corner of Main and Second streets, and will include a four-story expansion and the construction of a fourth floor on the existing building. Construction is expected to start in October and by spring could be linked to a major renovation of the City Center Hotel with a walkway connecting the two properties.

“The same architect is going to do the City Center Hotel, and I think that’s just going to make this whole area an awesome part of Mankato,” developer Jon Kietzer said.

Kietzer, the owner of Century 21 Landmark Realtors, has explored various options for the Landmark Building since its purchase in 2014. The turning point came when he and his wife visited the Charmant Hotel, a boutique hotel that had transformed a former factory of candy and furniture store in downtown La Crosse, where they lived for several years before coming to Mankato.

lovely interior

The architect behind the transformation of a former furniture store in La Crosse, Wisconsin into a boutique hotel was hired to design the Landmark Building redevelopment project and the City Center Hotel renovation in Mankato.

“We knew what this building looked like before and we were blown away,” he said, adding that they had found the creative force behind the Charming – The Kubala Washatko Architects Inc. of Cedarburg, Wisconsin. “And we called him up and said, ‘Let’s do something like that in Mankato. “

The company completed preliminary designs for a 60-room Landmark hotel and a dramatic renovation of the neighboring, aging City Center Hotel, presenting the plans to the city of Mankato in February 2020. The onset of the COVID pandemic -19 forced a change. of diets.

Kietzer said he expects the City Center Hotel’s renovation to go ahead largely as planned, possibly as early as next spring. The project is a partnership with Tim Rutjes of Slowey Management, which operates a dozen hotels, primarily in South Dakota. And Kietzer said the hotel modernization would likely be on a similar scale to that proposed 18 months ago. Designs at the time showed 144 renovated rooms accompanied by the creation of a large outdoor courtyard where the pool is now located and a rooftop bar and restaurant.

But aligning funding to create a new boutique hotel in the Landmark Building has proved problematic after the economic upheavals caused by the pandemic.

“To this day, banks are still quite cautious about hospitality,” Kietzer said.

This prompted a move to upscale housing and Kubala Washatko Architects got to work on the revised plans.

“We wanted it to be as impressive as the hotel would be, so it took the architect a while to put the sketches together and come up with this plan,” he said.

Adding the northwest side of the Landmark Building will increase the length of the building by about a third, placing it against the aisle between Main and Walnut streets. The new fourth floor will include apartments with a private patio garden on the Main Street and Second Street sides.

Marker drawing 3

A new fourth floor, featuring a garden terrace for tenants of upscale apartments, is part of the planned changes for the 1919 Landmark building on the northeast side of downtown Mankato.

The third floor apartments have very high ceilings in the main living space with mezzanine bedrooms. Kietzer said rents are expected to range from around $ 1,500 to $ 2,500 per month for the apartments, which include 21 two-bedroom, seven one-bedroom and five three-bedroom units.

At least a few heated underground parking lots will be offered to tenants in the ramp below the City Center Hotel.

“I think there will be seniors and I think there will be young professionals – a mix of these two groups,” Kietzer said of potential tenants.

The air connection to the hotel, which is already connected by airways to the Civic Center complex and downtown parking ramps, will be an attractive feature for tenants and customers of the micro-distillery, according to Kietzer. People can park their cars once and have convenient access to drinks, restaurants and civic center events.

Landmark drawing 2

A $ 12 million development planned for the corners of Main and Second streets includes an addition to the Landmark Building, construction of a fourth floor on the existing building, and a skyway connection to the City Center hotel.

The space on the ground floor of the Landmark Building will be leased to a local entrepreneur who will operate the craft distillery, cocktail room and event center. Contacted by The Free Press, the man from Mankato said he wanted to suspend public comments until deals were finalized on the project.

But he said his plan was to initially produce whiskeys and gin with added vodka in the future at the 3,300 square foot distillery. The 2,350 square foot cocktail lounge will feature outdoor seating along Second Street. And the adjacent event center will be marketed for smaller-scale weddings, parties and live music performances.

According to community development director Paul Vogel, city officials have just received the redevelopment plans and are in the early stages of reviewing zoning, parking and design compliance.

The initial impression of the architectural designs was positive, with Vogel noting that some of the building’s original features are being restored.

“Bringing the windows up to their full height, some of that sort of thing,” he said. “A very attractive development.

Kietzer said he was investigating whether certain elements of the project would be eligible for funding through the city’s tax increase, which involves capturing some of the additional property taxes created by a redevelopment project and returning them to the city. owner to help cover construction costs.

Vogel said the project fits with the city’s goal of promoting more downtown living.

“Housing in the city center is a priority for us to stimulate this kind of development,” Vogel said, adding that the question of city subsidies would be answered later. “… Let’s look at the zoning and planning issues first. “

City leaders also hoped to see more hotel rooms added downtown, so the loss of the boutique hotel is a bummer.

“When we have conventions with 600 or 700 people, we don’t have enough rooms downtown to accommodate everyone,” said Mayor Najwa Massad, longtime civic center events caterer and founder from downtown Olives restaurant.

The prospect of more downtown residents, however, is appealing, Massad said. And the distillery will add an additional attraction to draw people to the city center where they will also patronize other businesses nearby.

Kietzer is the second developer to move from a hotel project to downtown apartments since the start of the pandemic.

A $ 14.2 million downtown Marriott hotel above the Cherry Street parking ramp received zoning approval in March 2020 with a vote on final approval slated for the following month. Developer Gordon Awsumb has since put that project on hold and is currently suing a five-story, 44-unit apartment building on the Jackson Street side of Mankato Place Mall.

The Free Press reported in December that another downtown hotel project was also being planned by a developer in Rochester who intended to build a 100-unit Home2 Suites just east of the office. Mankato’s historic post office, which was to be transformed into a wedding venue and event center. Vogel said the city had not seen any specific plans come forward on the project.

Kietzer said he didn’t expect his apartment building to undermine Awsumb’s plans, predicting that the momentum for downtown investment – including downtown housing – will increase with each new one. project. He thanked those who invested in downtown development when the downtown core was dying, which led to a series of new buildings such as Profinium Place, Eide Bailly Center, PrairieCare and Bridge Plaza.

“It’s a lot of development in a short period of time, and I think it will change people’s opinion of downtown Mankato,” he said. “And I would expect this to continue, now that the groundwork was laid by the people who started it and took a pretty big risk by the time they did.”

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