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.

Project update: Second tower at Superior Plating site could have up to 490 apartments

Posted by: Jim Buchta under Architecture Updated: March 31, 2015 - 3:08 PM
Rendering of phase one by ESG Architects

Rendering by ESG Architects

We have some updates on a mixed-use development that could bring more than 900 luxury apartments to northeast Minneapolis. Lennar Multifamily plans to build a 20-story tower with 257 units and 22,000 square feet of commercial space on a two-block site at the corner of First and University Avenues across the Mississippi River from downtown Minneapolis. Documents recently submitted to the city say a second phase could have another tower with up to 30 floors as many as 490 apartments surrounded by up to 75,000 square feet of commercial space including but not limited to retail, restaurants, and office space.

Peter Chmielewski, vice president of development for Lennar, said that he's focused on getting phase one out of the ground and can't comment on future plans.

The former Superior Plating site is being sold by an entity called First and University LLC. Lennar has made a down payment on the two-block site, which includes Phases 1 and 2, and expects to close the deal in the coming months. After proposals by several other developers, Lennar and the project designer, ESG Architects, got an enthusiastic endorsement from the Nicollet Island East Bank Neighborhood Association earlier this year.

According to documents submitted to the city, phase one should be underway this fall and completed two years later. Phase two is expected to start when phase one is complete.

Case-Shiller: Twin Cities home prices up 2.2 percent during January

Posted by: Jim Buchta under Buying Updated: March 31, 2015 - 10:08 AM

Home prices in the Twin Cities metro posted a 2.2 percent annual gain during January, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which tracks repeat sales of the same property. Nationwide, price gains were more robust. A 10-city composite showed prices rising 4.4 percent year-over-year and 4.3 percent from December.  Denver and Miami reported the highest year-over-year gains, rising 8.4 and 8.3 percent, respectively.

Typically, price gains in the Twin Cities slow during the winter. We'll have the latest data on the local market next Thursday when the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR) releases its March home sales report, which tracks the median price of all sales during the month. The group's weekly report shows unseasonably strong buying and selling activity.

Here's a snapshot of what happened for the week ending March 21:

  • New Listings increased 22.1% to 1,821
  • Pending Sales increased 27.1% to 1,252
  • Inventory increased 1.7% to 13,869

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.

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