ST. PAUL, MN-Multifamily housing developer George Sherman recently bought the historic Straus Building in Lowertown and plans to convert the property into a mixed-use housing and commercial development. The 129-year-old building, on the southeast corner of Fifth and Sibley streets, was home to Straus Knitting Mills.

It has been vacant since the company moved to St. Croix Falls, WI, in 1989.

Sherman, whose Minneapolis-based George Sherman & Associates is perhaps the most active urban multifamily housing developer in the Twin Cities with several projects already underway in both Downtown areas, paid $1 million. The seller was HenryZaidan, who has owned a number of Lowertown properties and has plans to build a luxury condominium tower called Sibley House there.

Given the high demand for rental housing, the five-story building is another example of city planners favoring approaches that redevelop old warehouse space into residential use.

Sherman plans to build about 50 rental units, with 23 qualifying under the city’s affordable housing criteria. He also plans to add up to 10,000 sf of commercial space to the building’s lower floors. The project is expected to begin next summer, pending funding availability from the city and the state.

Sherman is seeking historic tax credits for renovating the building while preserving its infrastructure and exterior. He may keep some of the building’s antique knitting machines from the 1920s as historical exhibit.

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