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70 Percent of Pillsbury A-Mill Artist Apartments to be Hydropowered

Simpls Collage

Top and Bottom Right: Weis builders survey the tunnels located underneath the Pillsbury A-Mill; Bottom Left: Outside of A-Mill under construction.

Built in 1881, the historic Pillsbury A-Mill was once the largest flour mill in the world. It was in operation until 2003. Now, it is one of three Minneapolis structures designated as a National Historic Landmark and is undergoing a massive redevelopment into 251, affordable-housing artist lofts by Dominium, a Minnesota based real estate owner and developer.  
Currently, Dominium is working on making the building once again hydropowered (the conversion of water into energy). The A-Mill’s location next to St. Anthony Falls, in addition to an 16- by 25-foot preexisting historic tunnel system (originally used to convert river water flowing through the system to mechanical power for milling flour inside the building) makes it ideal for hydropower. The City helped this project by conducting a study helping inform Dominium of the feasibility of using the tunnel system for implementing hydropower in the A-Mill. A five-foot diameter pipe from the Mississippi River located above the falls will transfer water through a tunnel under Main Street to a drop shaft, where it will drop into a turbine spinning at 600 rotations a minute generating 600 kilowatts of energy. The water will be emptied out below the falls without any endangerment to wildlife and/or the aesthetic appearance of the falls. It is expected to generate clean, renewable and efficient energy to meet about 70% of the property’s electrical needs and will be completed by December. In addition, Dominium also will use efficient hydrothermal energy from the water flowing through the tunnel system for heating and cooling the building.
So the public can enjoy the historic tunnel system, Dominium is in talks with the Mill City Museum to allow them to have guided tours and an interpretive space inside the basement and tunnel of the A-Mill. In addition, Dominium worked closely with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the National Park Service, the State Historic Preservation Office, the City of Minneapolis and Xcel Energy throughout the planning and design of the project.
Already 100 percent leased, a grand opening celebration for the A-Mill is being planned for late 2015 or early 2016.  

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Last updated Oct 9, 2015