Partnership Brings the North Loop’s Living Room and Backyard to Life

AUTHORED BY COLE STERR

One of our most recent developments in the vibrant North Loop neighborhood, The Nordic, has already begun the work of creating legacies over the past few months.

As the newly developed “living room and back yard” of the North Loop, The Nordic has provided many hours of enjoyment in the open, outdoor plaza space that connects to the neighborhood’s popular The Freehouse restaurant at the Loose-Wiles Building next door.

Left photo courtesy of photographer Renee Jones Schneider from the Star Tribune, right photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

Our friends from The Musicant Group are mainly responsible for this; since 2012, they’ve been planning and hosting placemaking events and designing spaces to connect the public with common areas throughout Minnesota. Its main mission is simple: to create places where people want to be.

United Properties partnered with The Musicant Group on The Nordic in the development phase, keeping the question of “What do people want to do?” top of mind. Through engaging and interviewing residents, employees, and visitors of the North Loop, Founder Max Musicant and Community Event Manager Shelby Schroeder uncovered a few common threads: people want to create new traditions and experience new amenities and events

Musicant and Schroeder explain that “the plaza was designed to accommodate physical curling programs, parties, fitness events, and intimate casual and day-to-day experiences.”  

From hosting musicians and enjoying a couple of cold ones to celebrating the holidays and practicing yoga, the Nordic is fulfilling its promise to serve as the living room and backyard of the vibrant North Loop – satisfying the needs of people who live, work, and play in the neighborhood. 

The Nordic Shenanigans

This past September, an Oktoberfest celebration was held at the plaza between The Nordic and The Freehouse. It’s a convenient location, especially with The Freehouse right there to provide the beer! By bringing this event to the plaza, the space can engage with people and generate buzz, all in the hopes of making this an annual event at the plaza. 

Photo courtesy of The Musicant Group

The Musicant Group has also implemented what’s called “Minute Mondays” where employees in The Nordic and Loose-Wiles Building and bystanders can take a minute to engage in Minute-to-Win-It activities. It’s intended to interact with employees and the general public during our fast-paced lives. “I knew that people didn’t have 30 minutes to spare, but I knew they had one minute,” says Schroeder, “Minute Mondays are smaller-scale events so people see that there’s constant activity.” 

Photo courtesy of The Musicant Group

Additionally, The Musicant Group hosts Fika Fridays, which is an event held every Friday where coffee, treats, doughnuts, pastries, and even a yogurt bar are offered to the public and employees. It’s so popular that 80-100 people come every time, and people have it scheduled on their calendars. “There’s one employee that shouts across the cubes every time Fika Fridays rolls around” explains Schroeder, “he even brought me coffee one day to show his appreciation for the work we do with this event.” This event has certainly achieved the goal of the space by creating a weekly ritual amongst employees and neighboring organizations. “It allows people and employees to take some time out of the office, come down to the plaza and plan something together and enjoy themselves” explains Musicant. 

Photo courtesy of The Musicant Group

Local musicians have also been taking advantage of the open plaza outdoor and indoor spaces to share their talents with the public. The Musicant Group has an extensive list of local musicians, and they pick a variety of musicians to perform so that different tastes and genres can be heard by the public at least once a month. Tenants have even said that they want to come down for lunch and enjoy some local music on the plaza. “It’s a great way to engage so many different types of people” describe Schroeder and Musicant, “witnessing a concert communicates a live invitation, and implies that the plaza is an inclusive space and that we want people there.” 

Photo courtesy of The Musicant Group

The Musicant Group has also worked with the North Loop Neighborhood Association to create recurring events. “We’re actively recruiting partners to create larger events and seasonal traditions” Musicant explains. In October, the two groups worked together to use the plaza space for a Halloween celebration, kicking off a theme of recurring events on the plaza to create traditions and foster a memorable gathering space. 

Photo courtesy of The Musicant Group

And to top it off, The Musicant Group worked with the Downtown Resource Group (DRG) to utilize the space for yoga. As part of its partnership with the Best Christmas Ever (BCE), an organization that works to bless families who have been through tough times during the holiday season, DRG asked The Musicant Group if the space could be used for yoga to raise money for BCE. The Musicant Group couldn’t say no. “We want to make our spaces a ‘yes’ space. If somebody wants to host an event, we don’t say no, we try our best to make it happen,” say Schroeder and Musicant. The open space on the plaza makes it a perfect spot for not only parties, but also a space where people can be physically active, underscoring the plaza’s versatility. 

In partnership with The Musicant Group and The Freehouse, United Properties is also in the process of installing curling into the space with hopes of recurring every winter. It will be the only outdoor curling courts in the Twin Cities that use actual stones, too. The group is also moving the outdoor concert series indoors for the winter, rebranding it Lattes and Listen, in partnership with the new coffee shop FRGMNT. Continuing to work with the North Loop Neighborhood Association, hosting more Fika Fridays, making annual holiday events, and implementing an ice bar with The Freehouse are all in the works too. 

Impact of Public Spaces 

Whether it’s some good ‘ole beer-drinking, family gathering, or relaxing yoga, our plaza at The Nordic is a versatile space well suited to host a wide variety of activities that bring the neighborhood together.

Our partnership with The Musicant Group has truly created a place where people want to be, and we’re excited to imagine more possibilities for cultivating a welcoming public space. It’s all part of our work to leave lasting legacies in the Twin Cities and fulfil our mission of advancing transformative real estate. ​​