The North Loop Move: Our Transition to a Simpler Life

A lap top computer open on a table in a community living room.
A lap top computer open on a table in a community living room.

Lynn’s  new virtual office in the Solhavn Living Room.

Six weeks has passed since John and I loaded up our remaining downsized possessions, left our beloved Lowertown apartment in the Cosmopolitan and migrated to Solhavn, a new residential building located in the emerging Minneapolis North Loop neighborhood.  Exciting, adventurous, exhausting and scary, we’ve learned a few things by making the transition to a simpler, more streamlined existence.

1. It’s easier to see what matters. As our sporty Mazda 3 rolled away and the leather sofa was carted off, what remained were the positive impressions of the people we had sold them to and the fact that we had each other.  No matter how difficult we thought it might have felt to let go of our “stuff” we realized that waking up together was the most important thing.

2. Life is easier with less.  Coming from good German stock, and having the subsequent “everything-must-be-spotless gene” in spades, owning less furniture (we purged 13 pieces) means that I have less dusting to torment myself over each weekend.  Our home is furnished with comfortable essentials, minus the fussy surfaces that really didn’t serve us well and soaked up precious time in upkeep.  There are also far less under utilized sporting goods, clothing and housewares to store, dialing down the “my stuff/your junk” tension in our marriage.

3. Living close to work and interests and having good telecommute options, enhances daily life immeasurably. Traveling less between work, hobbies and home has made the stress level go down significantly in both our lives.  Even without  car ownership, I have a number of options available to me to travel the less than one mile to my company’s new office. On some of the dangerously cold days this winter, it’s been easy to set up my virtual office in the Solhavn living room.  John walks to the downtown studios to record commercials and we both hop the city bus with our skis in tow to take a quick 10 minute ride to the Wirth Park Chalet.  When summer arrives, our options will only increase with the Cedar Lake Bike Trail and Mississippi River Parkway at our doorstep and three Farmer’s Markets at which to shop.

4. People think we’re cool. One of the unexpected boons of downsizing, going carless and moving into a building and neighborhood that supports green living is that a number of people, from our friends and acquaintances, to my daughter and future son-in-law,  fawn over our choices.  Our building’s general manager shared with me last week that she told her mom the story  about our downsizing move to the building with the hope of inspiring her to do something similar.  Liv and her betrothed, both confirmed carless Chicago urbanites, revel in the idea of having less in order to live in a new building with cool, eco-amenities. They quiz us about our carsharing options and the building’s composting system when they visit.  All these kudos have us feeling like rock-star level urban hippies! (And we’re liking it!)

5. Doing something different is fun and inspiring!  Without a doubt, moving is an extremely stressful process.  But to John and I,  living a life devoid of adventure would be worse. Though we’ve only moved across town, the North Loop feels like a

A man and woman seated at a counter smiling.

Our first weekend in the North Loop we made friends at the counter of Mill City Cafe over Sunday brunch.

totally different planet than our old neighborhood.  People dress different, have different hobbies and interests (there are many more like-minded athletes in our new building) making the new friendships we’re forging interesting and exciting.  We’ve been so inspired by the change that we’ve volunteered to start a Yoga Club and an Urban Gardening Club in our residential building!

Change is hard, but has its rewards. Let the new adventure begin!


Solhavn’s Open and Snowmen are Welcome!

High-top tables and stools with artistic looking lamps over them in the Solhavn Brew Pub.

The new Brew Pub at Solhavn where we look forward to meeting our new friends and neighbors.

Last week, John and I were given the opportunity to meet our new neighbors and explore our future home at Solhavn’s grand opening party.  The building was filled with new tenants, well-wishers, potential residents and live jazz music.  We wandered the premises marveling at the elegant appointments and well-equipped public spaces that will soon be part of our home.

One the added bonuses we’ve been enjoying is meeting some of our new neighbors via our blog! Getting to know people in the Urban Deluxe neighborhood prior to the move has really ramped up the anticipation level.  It’s great that people are reaching out to us and we’re visualizing some great chats with them in front of the fire in the lobby’s Living Room or in the Brew Pub in just a few short weeks.

One of the attractions Solhavn had for us is a carefully outfitted fitness center

John and Stephanie standing in our new kitchen.

John with our building’s new general manager, Stephanie, showing off our new kitchen.

(Precore machines! Yes!) and a lovely yoga room. Being part of a building that has a well-built social aspect to its resident web portal means that we’ve been able to post a “club” notice and are already getting positive feedback about creating a resident yoga group within the building.

But I have to say that the best part of our experience of preparing for our move to Solhavn has been the great interaction we continue to have with the building staff.  Shortly after we entered the celebration, Stephanie, our building’s new general manager asked us if she could show us our new apartment.  “I’d be honored if you’d let me be the one to show you,” she said.

Standing on our new balcony I told  Stephanie about the lighted snowman my daughter and I called “Frosty.”  We  had put Frosty on display outside of our home for every holiday season since she was very  young.  The year we moved into our apartment in downtown St. Paul, we had even used him as a lamp when we had little furniture. My daughter had begged me to take Frosty with us to Solhavn “for just one more year” when I explained I didn’t think we’d have the space to store him.  Stephanie exclaimed upon hearing this, “Of course, you’ve got to bring Frosty and put him on your balcony!”

At that moment, I knew we had selected the right home.  Even snowmen are welcome here!

Frosty will be welcomed at Solhavn, along with all of our other memories.

Frosty will be welcomed at Solhavn, along with all of our other memories.

Clandestine Tour of the new Solhavn

Photo of apartment building with blue sky and white clouds overhead.
Barricade in the apartment lobby and floor to ceiling glass windows into the conference room.

The new Solhavn lobby with marble fireplace and conference room, awaiting their furnishings.

This afternoon, following a business meeting in Uptown, I took advantage of the lateness of the afternoon and the sunshine, to run our updated lease agreement over to the rental office of our new apartment building.  The leasing office is located in the completed sister-building to ours, but I was able to see that, just a block away, the door to our new building was standing open allowing the early autumn breeze to drift through the transitioning structure.

One of the Solhavn staff cheerfully accepted our updated lease and explained, when I asked if I could poke my head into the new building, that we needed to arrange a tour for another day. “The building is still under construction,” she explained, “and we can’t let you go in without staff.”  She apologized, but the leasing agents were presently in a meeting and I demurred, not wishing to take up more of her time, having come over unannounced.

Besides…the door to the new building was standing wide open and I could see the construction crew packing up their tools and heading down the street to their cars.  So I did what any self-respecting future tenant, and blog writer would do, I sneaked inside.

With camera phone at the ready, and a watchful eye for annoyed contractors, I wandered through the new, half-finished public spaces on the first floor of our new home.  Noting the gleaming fireplaces, fixtures and appliances newly fitted to their destinations, I captured the public living room chandelier and took a photo through the glass door of the new brew-pub.  My clandestine journey lasted only about 5 minutes, but it was fun to get a quick look of things taking shape in

Chandelier next to a tall step ladder, suspended from a partially complete ceiling.

Solhavn’s elegance begins to emerge as the graceful chandeliers are fitted to the public rooms.

the place we’ll be moving to next month.

I finally walked out into what will be our new backyard, and took a few shots of our newly assembled balcony. (Yes, they finally arrived!)  It’s fun to consider relaxing out there next year at this time, and sharing moments around the fire pit and barbecue with friends, family and my company’s staff.  Enjoy the snapshots of my adventurous afternoon in the new Solhavn.

Brew-Pub room under construction with green hanging lamps and a wood counter.

Solhavn will have a Brew-Pub, outfitted with premium espresso dispensed Swedish modern style.

Apartment building courtyard with barbecue and sheltered areas being built.

The spacious outdoor space in the building’s courtyard. Our balcony will overlook this area.

The Heart of Community: Good People and Great Service

View from the living room window with apartments on the next wing's windows close by.

First living room choice was little too close for comfort, so we opted for the view behind door number two.

A few days ago John and I had lunch in the North Loop and stopped by the leasing office of our new building,  to learn what we could regarding the construction issues.  Our leasing agent, Peter Gulstrand, took the time to talk to us and give us a clear picture of the construction delays facing many of the apartment and condo building going up in the Twin Cities.   He also guided us through the construction site and took us up to our newly completed unit.

Once in the apartment, we realized that living room window’s positioning in relation to the line of sight with other units made us less than comfortable regarding the degree of privacy we might have.  Taking that into consideration, Peter took us a few doors down to show us another newly completed unit, that was not only positioned out of the line of sight of future neighbors, but had a better view  and also included the balcony I had originally wanted for container gardening.  He then showed us what other areas of the building that he could, given the construction process, to give us a better idea of how the building was developing.

Peter allowed us the time and space to contemplate the unit switch, and was very accommodating when we called him to change our already completed lease agreement for the other apartment. “We want you to be happy here for a long time,” he countered, when we apologized for being high-maintenance.

So often, it’s easy for us to find what is wrong with the organizations and people we work and do business with.  That’s why we felt it was important to say how impressed we were that, despite the obvious pressures of the delays in construction and juggling the needs of many future renters, the leasing team at Solhavn has gone over and above for us.  They are not a large staff,  but they have given us the feeling, any time we work with them, that we are extremely important to them.

This is not an easy mark to hit when one considers that John and I are moving from one of the most highly-rated apartment buildings for customer service in the Twin Cities.  Our home at the Cosmopolitan on Mears Park, is managed by an award-winning team of people (2012

John and Lynn standing in the kitchen of the unit.

Checking out the newly completed kitchen–John is so excited to use that amazing gas stove!

Duebener Award, among others) that feel much more like members of our family, than people who collect our rent.  When I was living alone and became ill, the Cosmopolitan staff offered to go to the drug store for me.  Staff members also attended my and John’s wedding reception.  The Cosmopolitan staff members have been a part of some of the most important moments in our lives while we lived here.  We believe that the people managing our building understand the heart of community better than anywhere we’ve ever lived.

It’s wonderful to look forward to living in a new building that exemplifies this same philosophy: that good people and great service, make a rental community a home.