Just Listed brings you the latest news and information from the Twin Cities-area commercial and residential real estate market and beyond from veteran reporters Jim Buchta and Kristen Leigh Painter.

IRET sells four Twin Cities office properties, shifting its real estate focus

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter Updated: March 27, 2015 - 1:24 PM

Investors Real Estate Trust is selling off four office showroom properties in the Twin Cities, a move that aligns with the equity trust's narrowing focus on multifamily, healthcare and industrial.

The Minot, N.D.-based trust owns 35 office properties in Minnesota, according to its website, but is gradually dumping them from its diverse portfolio. 

The four properties, announced Friday, are Plymouth Tech I-V, Whitewater Plaza in Minnetonka, Southeast Tech Center in Eagan and Burnsville Bluffs II. CBRE, a Los Angeles-based real estate brokerage, conducted the transaction totaling $26.6 million.

"These sales advance IRET's portfolio transformation plan to narrow our focus to multifamily, healthcare and bulk industrial properties," said Matt Volpano, vice president of investments for IRET. 

IRET owns 112 properties across all real estate segments in Minnesota. The trust has 257 holdings across 12 states in the Midwest, Great Plains and Mountain West.

Buzzfeed opens its Minneapolis engineering office with beer pong

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter under Architecture Updated: March 25, 2015 - 4:20 PM

Buzzfeed celebrated the grand opening Tuesday of its new Minneapolis office in the former Land O' Nod Mattress Co. factory in the Northeast arts district.

Phil Wilson, general manager of Minneapolis Buzzfeed office

But the alliterative event "Booze, Bites and New Besties," was anything but a snoozer. Beer pong, a DJ and local brews kept the warehouse-like office space buzzing as staff from the company's New York office mingled with potential new hires and curious Midwesterners.

The industrial space fits the description of other tech companies around the country, with its 18-foot ceilings, exposed brick and community-table workspaces. 

"We saw this space and it reminded us of Buzzfeed's second office in SOHO," said Phil Wilson, general manager of the Minneapolis office.

Wilson's former company, Hyper IQ, existed just four months before Buzzfeed acquired the tech firm in December.

Minneapolis will be an engineering office and is Buzzfeed's sixth U.S. expansion city. The entertainment and social news company has hired 18 employees so far in Minneapolis and is still actively recruiting with the hopes of reaching 30 in the short-term. The Twin Cities office, with its Hyper IQ heritage, will focus on developing mobile web applications. Buzzfeed's acquisition of Hyper IQ essentially brought all of the mobile tech development in-house, a move that aligns with the company's technology-driven content.

Buzzfeed's grand opening party of its Minneapolis office

Buzzfeed's grand opening party of its Minneapolis office

"Recruiting can be challenging in New York," said Mark Wilke, chief technology officer for Buzzfeed. "There are a lot of great companies in Minneapolis, but not a ton of start-up tech. I knew there were a lot of engineers here so really is a great fit."

Wilke was among the first Buzzfeed employees in New York, but spent 15 years in Minnesota. He met his wife, a Rochester native, while going to school in Minneapolis. 

The event, which garnered an appearance by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, gave the company a chance to show of its millennial humor. In addition to Buzzfeed's signature OMG signage, the Minneapolis office walls are adorned with other exclamatory phrases, such as "Uff da" and "You Betcha," in bright yellow bubbles. 

Twin Cities among the top-20 best buy cities in the U.S.

Posted by: Jim Buchta under Buying Updated: March 24, 2015 - 2:33 PM

Forbes compiles lots of lists, and we always try to pay close attention when the Twin Cities makes the grade. Today, Forbes released its annual list of "Best Buy Cities: Where to invest in housing in 2015," which is based on a variety of measures including appreciation, unemployment rate and house price/rent ratio. The Twin Cities metro was No. 17 just behind Jacksonville, Florida.

Several metros in Texas dominated the list, including Austin, which took the No. 1 spot in part because of its 12 percent annual home price growth. Price growth in the Twin Cities was estimated at 6 percent. Here's a link to the complete list. 

- Jim Buchta

Sale price for city-owned Nicollet Hotel Block revealed

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter Updated: March 23, 2015 - 11:19 AM

Renderings by architect LHB of United Properties' Nicollet Hotel Block plans

United Properties is proposing to pay the City of Minneapolis $10.4 million for the Nicollet Hotel Block, according to city documents.

The sale price, previously not disclosed, was a key reason city officials cited for selecting the Bloomington-based developer over the three other bids last month. The Community Development and Regulatory Services Committee of the City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to award United exclusive negotiating rights, the final step before full council takes up the deal.

The block, bounded by S. 3rd Street, Washington and Hennepin avenues and Nicollet Mall, was the subject of an unusually high-profile competition this winter. Named for the stately hotel that stood on the site until 1991, the Nicollet Hotel Block is situated next to the César Pelli-designed Minneapolis Central Library at the north end of the soon-to-be revamped Nicollet Mall, bridging the central business district to the burgeoning North Loop neighborhood.

United plans to build a mixed-use project composed of a 36-story tower for residential and hotel rooms and a four-story building for retail, restaurant and other commercial uses. The public park space will take up about half of the parcel. 

City staff said it chose United over M.A. Mortenson, Duval Development and Doran Cos., all Twin Cities-based firms, because it "best met the city's development goals for the property". Design is subjective to opinion and so the city focused on pragmatics, such as dollar figures. For that, the city said its decision was based on two factors: the sale price and development costs that will put more money in the city's pocket.

In a press release last month announcing its developer selection, the City of Minneapolis said United Properties proposal offered "the highest total development cost, which will result in the largest tax base increase for the City." This is true, except for Duval, which officials disqualified two weeks prior, citing incomplete details about Duval's financing for the project. United's plan is projected to cost $161 million to develop. 

Below is a previously released analysis of the four proposals.

Trio of projects slated for the U of M area

Posted by: Jim Buchta under Architecture Updated: March 19, 2015 - 11:51 AM

Just when you thought the U of M development boom had quieted, there's a new round of proposals for the area. This afternoon the Minneapolis Planning Commission will review plans for two new apartment buildings and a new hotel in the area, here's the latest look at what's coming.

Huron & Essex Hotel rendering by DJR Architecture

Huron & Essex Hotel rendering by DJR Architecture

  • CPM is proposing a five-story, 140-room hotel with a main floor restaurant and second floor banquet facility at 501 Huron Boulevard and 2510 Essex Street Southeast in the Prospect Park Neighborhood. The project would include 83 off-street parking spaces. Last year, CPM received approval for a similar hotel project on a nearby parcel, but didn't proceed with those plans. If this latest proposal is approved, the original site would be sold to the University of Minnesota for future development.

Brickhouse Lofts rendering by David Kelly

Brickhouse Lofts rendering by David Kelly

  • Developer Ned Abdul wants to build roof-top additions to two existing buildings for a project that would total 315 apartments with a total of 480 bedrooms and 168 enclosed parking stalls at 150 26th Avenue SE. The existing buildings are a 1916 four-story brick and concrete structure and a more modern steel warehouse. Both buildings would be connected to one another with an addition at the center of the site.

Renderings of the 721-729 8th Street Southeast apartments by Wells & Co. Architects

Renderings of the 721-729 8th Street Southeast apartments by Wells & Co. Architects

David Wells & Co. Architects submitted a proposal for a new four-story, 33-unit, 40-bedroom apartment building at 721 and 729 8th Street Southeast in the Marcy Holmes Neighborhood. The new building would replace an existing two-story single-family house that's in disrepair. There would also be 20 parking spaces on an adjacent surface lot.

City of Minneapolis releases request for proposals on Guthrie Liner Parcel downtown

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter Updated: March 18, 2015 - 11:26 AM

handout courtesy of the City of Minneapolis

 

The City of Minneapolis released a request for proposals on the much-anticipated "Guthrie Liner" parcel -- a long and narrow stripe of land along Washington Avenue that straddles the Mill District and East Downtown neighborhoods.

The Community Planning and Economic Development department outlined its preferences for private developers who would like to develop the site at 800 South Washington. If housing is a component, the city will favor proposals that have at least 20 percent of its units set aside for individuals making less than 50 percent of the median income. The request for proposal (RFP) suggests at least 4-5 stories, and a maximum of 8, with a strong street-level retail presence. 

“Washington Avenue could be a happening, bustling boulevard teaming with vibrancy, people, and shopping,” said Ward 3 Council Member Jacob Frey, in a statement. “To realize this potential, however, we need proposals that activate the street level in a big way, so substantial ground floor retail is an absolute must.”

Already, the block is home to the large city-owned Riverfront Parking Ramp. City staff suggest its size, offering 994 stalls, could sufficiently meet the parking needs of any new development. The liner parcel is about 24,000 square feet, or about a third of the entire city block. 

The city doesn't specify its preferred use on the site, but said in the RFP that proposals "should contribute to this mix of activity by creating a unique place, providing services or experiences, and/or drawing in visitors, employees and/or residents."

In 2010, Minneapolis granted two nonprofit organizations development rights for the L-shaped vacant land that hugged the parking ramp. American Academy of Neurology built its new headquarters along the Chicago Avenue side and Artspace Projects Inc., a nationally recognized real estate developer for the arts, had planned to build a four-story building along the Washington Avenue side that would include office, studio space and 36 affordable housing units for artists. The latter project never materialized and is why the city is now taking the land back to the market. 

Minneapolis-based Sherman Associates and St. Louis Park-based JMW Development had also bid on the parcel in 2010. 

Proposals are due to the city by May 20. 

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