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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
Minneapolis-based Graves Hospitality released its first rendering to the public Tuesday morning for its soon-to-be flagship hotel at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The full Metropolitan Airports Commission gave the hotel developer and management firm its unanimous approval Monday afternoon.
Graves is proposing a 9-story, 300-unit full-service hotel with a luxury spa, restaurant, observation deck bar and lounge and a parking ramp below.
“This will be our flagship. We want it to feel a certain way, not just like a brand," said Benjamin Graves, president and CEO at Graves Hospitality. "But still offering all the amenities and services of a true world-class hotel.”
The developer will have to receive Federal Aviation Administration's approval for its height design.
“Fortunately, where it is, it’s not on any flight patterns. In this particular location, it is pretty much one of the highest buildable height areas out there at the airport," Graves said. "So it will be the marquee of the airport when you drive up.”
The new hotel will be skyway connected to the airport with its own security checkpoint. While details are still being negotiated, the company will likely be responsible for managing and financing that checkpoint.
Intercontinental Real Estate Corp., not affiliated with Intercontinental Hotels, is Graves equity partner. PCL Construction and RSP Architects are also project partners.
The spa will offer pools and relaxation rooms. Travelers who arrive early can use the spa before checking in and the spa rooms can be rented for partial days, "which is kind of unique," said Graves. "We started that at Graves (downtown Minneapolis) and it makes even more sense at the airport."
Graves Hospitality hasn't finalized its brand because the situation grew competitive between various hotel flags once Graves was announced as the selected developer.
"We have a couple brands lined up, but everyone came out of the woodwork," Graves said. "So, we are still working to find the No. 1 fit and the best deal."
As for fit, Graves wants the brand that offers them the most flexibility to design the space as they want.
"We want the one that lets us make this very Minnesotan. We definitely want to have our influence on it, we don't want to be vanilla where you don't know where you are," he said.
The exterior will use local stone and materials, such as Kasota stone. It will also use glass and metal on the facade. Inside, Graves hopes to use local artists and elements that speak distinctly to Minnesota as a place.
"I truly feel the site offers the best of both worlds," Graves said. "we really feel we are going to be the interface between the airport and the community. We are going to offer a restaurant where you can pull up, valet your car and come dine with us. The way that you approach the hotel will be pretty convenient and you don't have to go through airport security" if you are a member of the general public.
Graves now has exclusive rights to negotiate with MAC. It will enter into at least a 40 year land lease. The company hopes to have the hotel up and running by the time Minneapolis hosts the Super Bowl in 2018.
Meet the Paxon North Loop apartments. On the cusp of the Great Recession, a Chicago developer started building a luxury high-rise condo tower in the heart of the North Loop, but ran out of money and abandoned the project - known then as the Reserve. The site went back to the bank and for years, the hulking concrete foundation and lowest levels of the underground parking garage were cordoned off with a chain link fence, becoming an eyesore as weeds took hold of the site.
A luxury apartment building in downtown Minneapolis that's anchored by a Whole Foods store fetched a record price. Kirkland, Wa.-based Weidner Apartment Homes paid $109 million for the project, according to public records. That was a record for a Twin Cities apartment building, following a series of other record prices for Twin Cities rental projects. The building was developed in 2013 by Ryan Cos and the Excelsior Group, which quickly leased up the project and put it on the market. Previous sales records were held by the nearby Nic on Fifth luxury apartment building, a high-rise that sold for more than $100 million last fall, and Junction Flats in the North Loop neighborhood. Public records show that Weidner paid $91.45 million for the apartment portion of the project and $17.55 million for the commercial component, which includes Whole Foods. Weidner owns and manages nearly 40,000 apartment units across the country and Canada, and has been aggressively snapping up projects like 222 Hennepin, which has more than 280 apartments and 20,000 square-feet of retail space, in the Twin Cities. Last fall, for example, Weidner paid more than $78 million for a portfolio of three suburban apartment buildings with 606 apartments.
Emboldened by the recent success of his StoneBridge Lofts condo building in the Minneapolis Mill District, long-time developer Jim Stanton plans to build 400 luxury condos on a nearby site. The Coon Rapids-based developer said that he’s inked a deal to buy a 189,000 square-foot warehouse building that occupies nearly a full city block at the corner of 12th Avenue and 2nd Street South near the intersection of Washington Avenue and Interstate Hwy. 35W. Stanton will pay about $8 million for the site when the deal closes in mid May, he said. The property had been marketed by Thomas Lelich, a broker with CBRE Group.
The warehouse was mostly recently occupied by Cenveo Inc., a Stamford, Connecticut-based printing company. Stanton said he hopes to build 400 units in one or two towers, possibly in two phases depending on the strength of the market.There was no doubt that his timing was good when he built the 164-unit StoneBridge Lofts next to Gold Medal Park. The project was nearly sold out by the time construction was completed last year. About 10 blocks south, Stanton is about to start building Portland Tower, a 17-story with 112 units. The bulk of the units will range from $300,000 to $800,000.
Stanton, who has developed thousands of housing units in the metro, is still working on renderings and has to seek municipal or neighborhood approvals on the latest Mill District project.