Eric Roper | Star Tribune

An abandoned building on the edge of downtown Minneapolis quickly became a magnet for squatters, drug dealers and prostitutes, who left its hallways covered with trash, broken glass and graffiti. It appeared to be a sad end to the former Abbott Hospital, where scores of babies were born over its 70-year lifetime in the Stevens Square neighborhood.

But the building has had a rebirth of its own, thanks to a jaunty engineer’s dream of salvaging it and turning it into apartments.

“A lot of exciting projects [are] going on all the time in town, but this is kind of special for me in many ways,” developer Swami Palanisami told a crowd gathered for the opening of Historic Abbott Apartments. Palanisami, an engineer by trade, has had a hand in many major Twin Cities projects, including installation of the foundation for the new Vikings stadium.

State and federal historic tax credits helped pay for restoration of the building, saving it from the wrecking ball.

“It very easily could have been torn down,” said Will O’Keefe, real estate program coordinator for the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. “But instead of tearing it down and having more than likely a vacant lot, you’ve got 123 units here.” {….}