St. Paul’s Pioneer Endicott buildings start new life as luxury multi-family development

April 24, 2013  |  Dan Rafter  |  Print Article  |  Email this Article


The little details provide the charm of the Pioneer Endicott buildings.

St. Paul’s historic Pioneer Endicott buildings began their newest chapter earlier this week as the luxury apartment units they now hold officially became available for lease.

The Pioneer Endicott buildings in downtown St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood — three buildings that are each more than 100 years old — now offer 234 high-end apartment units, two new restaurants, a bar, health club, museum, spa and wine store.

St. Paul-based PAK Properties,one of the developers of the project, is scheduled to complete construction work on the renovated Pioneer Endicott buildings in the first quarter of 2014. The first residents will move into the buildings’ apartment units in May.

The developers behind the mixed-use project say that the Pioneer Endicott buildings offer residents both modern amenities and the charm that comes with 100-year-old-plus structures.

“We are very excited to officially begin the process of renting units,” said Rich Pakonen, president of PAK Properties, in a written statement. “We believe that this complex meets the needs of today’s residents while maintaining its cherished 19th Century charm.”

The complex includes the 16-story Pioneer building and the two Endicott buildings located on Robert and 4th streets. Pakonent and Clint Blaiser, president of real estate investment and management company HBG Group, purchased the three buildings in 2011. They have since hired a team of construction and historic-preservation experts to restore the properties.

The properties have a long history in St. Paul. The Pioneer Building was built in 1889 to serve as the home for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press newspaper. The building made history as St. Paul’s first skyscraper. Architect Cass Gilbert designed the two Endicott buildings that were built in 1890. Later, construction crews built an arcade to connect the Pioneer and Endicott buildings.

The buildings were traditionally busy places, a center of commerce for downtown St. Paul. But in 2007, the last commercial tenants of the buildings moved out. That set the stage for Blaiser and Pakonen to purchase the buildings.

“We worked hard to first understand the historical significance of these buildings and then to find the best way to bring them back to life,” said Blaiser in a written statement. “Our challenge was finding a way to restore the history while creating a great place for people to live.”

And what will residents of the Pioner Endicott buildings get for their monthly rent? How about access to a concierge staff, club room, party area and dog run? The location is also a strong one, with the buildings sitting between two light-rail stops, two parks and the Mississippi River.

In a written statement, St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman had plenty of praise for the project.

“The Pioneer Endicott buildings will bring hundreds of new people to Lowertown,” he said. “St. Paul has a great history that has been preserved in buildings like this. Downtown’s momentum continues to grow, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what the future will bring.”

The luxury apartments are just the latest important development to hit St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood. The neighborhood will soon be home to a Lunds grocery store. A new minor-league baseball field for the St. Paul Saints is also being built here.

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