Owners share their plans for a new distillery and event center in St. Cloud

ST. CLOUD – Plans are underway to bring two unique new businesses east of St. Cloud.

Kevin Johnson is the owner of 539 properties and will be redevelop the property along East St. Germain Street. Its most recent tenant was Gulf Eagle Supply.

He says he’s officially owned the building since Dec. 1, but he’s been watching it for about four years with a vision of what it could become.

Johnson says grand old buildings like this are becoming increasingly rare.

Buildings like this, they don’t make anymore. The brick structure and the huge size to begin with. The second floor space is completely covered with maple parquet, 15,000 square feet. You will never find that in a brand new building today.

Johnson says the building is in good solid condition. He says that while it will take a lot of work to completely renovate the large two-story structure, it will be worth saving.

Walk past this thing and you would never know, for the age of the building, what happened here. Different owners over the years. We were able to find enough historical society photos of what happened here when it was International Harvester, who built the building.

It dates from 1928.


A distillery will occupy the first floor.

John Martens is the owner of the Iron Street Distillery. It will include a cocktail room at the front along the street with a production area at the rear.

He says they plan to offer a wide variety of spirits.

We would like to have vodka, gin, rum, brandy, bourbon, whiskey, rye and some variations of these. That’s a lot to take on, but we have plans to be able to build a cocktail base around these. We have already started putting the menus together and tying them to the theme.

Martens says they’re already coming up with names for the various liquors, many of which will be a nod to International Harvester or the east side of town.

Martens says the plan is to create a warm atmosphere in the cocktail room.

We are considering having a fireplace, lots of sofas and lounge chairs. An atmosphere where you can come in and have a few drinks, enjoy the cocktail, in a good atmosphere. There is potential for live music.

Martens says they expect to have seating for between 175 and 200 people in the cocktail halls. There will also be a patio at street level on the west side of the building, and possibly seating for 49 people on the roof.

Currently, the tentative opening date for the Iron Street Distillery is November 1.


A new place to host your wedding or other events on the second floor.

Owner Tessa Johnson says she has a vision to organize events like weddings from start to finish.

We see that in the Twin Cities there are a lot of full market spaces where you can have the wedding party all day and have everyone all day and really make it an event.

The space still needs to be remodeled, but they start with the bones right, from the exposed brick walls to all the hardwood floors.

Johnson says that while they have a lot of work to do before it’s ready, there’s been a lot of public interest in renting the space.

Johnson says she wants it to be a full nuptial experience.

A dedicated space where we will welcome the wedding procession throughout the day. A separate area for the bride and her crew, then the guys and their crew. We will make it distinguish where it is separated, I know it is important for the bride and groom.

The space can accommodate up to 500 people.

They hope to have Harvester Square ready for use in early December.

The property is approximately four acres in size and the building occupies approximately one-third of it. There is room for approximately 250 parking spaces on site.

Johnson says he’s learned a lot about the building’s historical significance since he began the buying process. Much of the artwork and decor in the renovated space will honor the building’s past and its International Harvester roots.

539 Properties will seek final approval from St. Cloud City Council at a public hearing Monday evening.


About Michael B. Billingsley

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