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BEST LOFT OR CONDO PROJECT Minneapolis 2006 - Le Parisien Flats and Marketplace

While admittedly Le Parisien Flats and Marketplace reminds us of the French village at Epcot Center or the Paris Casino in Las Vegas (both elaborate efforts to capture the real deal in places that are nothing like the eternal City of Light) it still earns this year's nod because the 13-unit condo development incorporates a number of innovative, eco-friendly, and creative elements into its design. Developer Mark Dzuik offers up something called "building biology," which sounds a little germy but in fact encompasses a wide range of green building practices and products such as solar heat, a garden rooftop, and kitchen cabinetry composed of "agriboard" made from agricultural cellulose rather than wood. The lack of common hallways will cut down on noise pollution, and a courtyard will provide a small oasis and extra oxygen. There are also plenty of other attractive components, such as in-floor radiant heating and floors featuring the same herringbone parquet design that can be found in the Louvre near that diva Mona Lisa. The floor plans were even analyzed by a feng shui consultant, so aesthetic and architectural harmony are in line. Finally, buyers get a say in the decor by purchasing their condo "on the half shell" and working with a designer (developer and contractor approved) to complete the interior. The building will also feature a bakery and organic wine loft for those who wish to purchase an elegant repast while wearing their slippers. Ultimately, Le Parisien may only possess just a bit of that je ne sais quoi peculiar to the French, but the attempt at beauty and whimsy is appreciated, and the depth of environmental concern behind this project is to be commended and hopefully duplicated in other developments.

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