Northwestern featured in Finance & Commerce

The Northwestern Building, perched at the corner of East Fourth Street and Wall Avenue, sits across from the St. Paul Farmer’s Market and is on the new Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line. Union Depot is a short block away.

The eight-story, neo-classical building once served as an administrative center for the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railroad, but now houses a collection of interesting businesses.

The facade mixes light concrete brick on the first floor with red brick and large windows above. The high-ceiling lobby has rows of ornate mailboxes, two passenger elevators and staircases on either side leading to performance spaces on the second floor or Golden’s Deli.

Offices range from 200 to 3,000 square feet while floor plans run around 10,000 square feet per floor. There’s also a penthouse suite available above the ninth floor. Many offices still have the historic mahogany trim and smoked glass windows on doors with business names etched in gold trim — all nice touches not seen in more modern office buildings.

There’s plenty of surface parking available nearby. Though the Northwestern has no formal fitness center, a YMCA is close.

Tenant mix: The largest tenant is Golden’s Deli, which also has a large booth at the farmer’s market on weekends. The second floor features two performance spaces – the classically oriented Baroque Room and Zeitgeist’s Studio Z. The basement features an art studio and sculpture workshop. Upstairs are businesses such as Creed Interactive and architectural businesses, among them 4RM+ULA (pronounced Formula), Cermak Rhoades Architects and Lunning Wende Associates. Robot expert Robotics Redefined is moving in, joining an eclectic group that includes museum exhibit planners Exhibits Development Group and the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota.

Intriguing tidbits: What sets the Northwestern Building apart from other Lowertown digs is the sheer variety of clients.

While some of its neighbors house artists or have condos above restaurants, few offer a restaurant, performance spaces and offices all in one. And that’s a major attraction, said leasing agent Ardis Hafdahl. Businesses enjoy having an office next to a painter or a jewelry artist, for instance, she said, as well being part of a tight little community.

“There’s a diversity you’re not going to find in many office settings and a close community of people who watch out for one another,” noted Hafdahl.

Space can usually be found in the building for expanding businesses, she added, highlighting Creed’s move from 200 to 3,000 square feet over six years. Unlike other Lowertown buildings, tenants can’t live in the Northwestern, though more than a few have asked for that option.

While LRT construction hasn’t exactly helped lure tenants, an improving economy and Lowertown’s cool cachet have attracted great interest. “Things are happening and business is coming back,” she said.

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