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.

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. 

Graves Hospitality reveals first airport hotel rendering after full commission approval

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter under Architecture, Super Bowl Updated: March 17, 2015 - 12:25 PM

Graves Hospitality site renderings for its new hotel and MSP airport.

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.

First Look: Paxon North Loop fills big hole

Posted by: Jim Buchta under Architecture Updated: March 20, 2015 - 11:39 AM

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.

Here's what the site looked like before construction of the Paxon began.

Here's what the site looked like before construction of the Paxon began.

Twin Cities-based Sherman & Associates bought the site and built The Paxon North Loop Apartments..
Paxon leasing specialist, Sydney Anderson and Sherman project manager, Tony Kuechle

United Properties and Greco explore mixed-use project in North Loop

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter Updated: March 13, 2015 - 10:15 AM

United Properties and Greco are exploring a joint-venture in the North Loop that would create up to 10-stories of apartments, parking, a restaurant, and a public park for the burgeoning neighborhood.

The mixed-used project would be built on two adjacent surface parking lots between The Freehouse and Bunker's Music Bar & Grill. Minneapolis-based Greco LLC currently owns the parking lot at 729 Washington Ave. next to The Freehouse while Bloomington-based United is looking to buy 753 Washington Ave. next to Bunker's. The latter parcel is currently owned by Holden Properties LLC and is valued at $1.04 million, according to Hennepin County property tax records.

"We are presently in the early stages of exploring the idea of a mixed-use project with Greco," said Bill Katter, executive vice president of United, in a statement. "As we presently envision it, the redevelopment plan would include up to 10 stories of space for apartments, a restaurant, parking and a neighborhood park that would connect Washington Avenue to Third Avenue."

United has been involved in a number of recent development projects in the North Loop and adjacent neighborhoods. The developer recently won the City of Minneapolis' competitive process to buy and develop the Nicollet Hotel Block that connects the central business district with the North Loop. United is currently building a $60-million new headquarters for Be The Match, a nonprofit for bone marrow and umbilical-cord blood transplantation, near Target Field. The company also announced last fall that it plans to build a speculative, or tenantless, office building next to Target Field Station.

Greco has been active in the multi-family sector throughout the city. Its North Loop projects include ElseWarehouse, The Copham and Second Street Lofts.

In Cloquet, owners of a Frank Lloyd Wright house welcome his fans

Posted by: Evan Ramstad Updated: March 12, 2015 - 2:19 PM

In the late 1930s, Mike McKinney's grandfather, Ray Lindholm, started a oil wholesale firm in Cloquet and chain of gas stations that became part of the landscape in nearly two dozen northern Minnesota towns. Lindholm was also a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright and hired the architect to design his house, which was built in 1952.

Two years later, Wright designed a gas station for Lindholm that still stands on a prominent corner of the small town 20 miles west of Duluth. It's the only gas station of Wright's design that was ever built.

a 1958 Star Tribune file photo of the Frank Lloyd Wright gas station in Cloquet

1958 Star Tribune file photo of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed gas station in Cloquet

Both the house and the station still belong to the McKinney family, who this week made news by announcing the sale of their businesses, Best Oil and Little Stores, in two transactions.

Mike McKinney, chief of operations for the family business, said in a interview Thursday that the family decided to sell them because no one in the next generation, the fourth since the firms were started, wanted to take them on. Market conditions were also good, he said. The family saw multiple bids for both businesses.

They lease the gas station to another operator and it doesn't run under either of the family's brands. The house, meanwhile, is vacant after one of McKinney's brothers moved out last summer. Called Mantyla, Finnish for "house in the pines," it sits on 15 acres of woodland and is one of 10 Wright-designed homes still standing in Minnesota. The family for many years has kept the home private and images of it are rare, though it is in a Wright anthology by art publisher Taschen.

"If there's any Wright buffs who give us a call, we're happy to show it to them," McKinney said. "We've been maintaining it. It's in decent shape. We don't have a long-term formulation for what to do with it."

Wright fans know both the station and house by the name Lindholm.


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