The former Holiday Inn Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis will be reborn this weekend as a Courtyard by Marriott that will showcase some of the brand’s latest innovations in lobby and room design.
What’s new? The traditional front desk will be replaced with individual “welcome pedestals,” and there will be more flexible seating options, including a communal, private media booths with high-definition televisions and a semi-enclosed lounge area.
The 14-story hotel will also feature a revamped version of “GoBoard 4.0,” a 55-inch LCD touch screen that will display maps, weather and headline news, but also allow guests to connect their mobile devices to download flight information, etc.
“The Courtyard lobby invites guests to get out of their rooms to work, socialize or be entertained, whether traveling alone or with colleagues,” said Janis Milham, vice president and global brand manager for Courtyard.
The 265-room hotel, at 1500 Washington Av. S. in Minneapolis, is between downtown’s central business district and the University of Minnesota campus. It will be operated as a Marriott franchise and is owned by Heartland Realty Investors. It will be managed by Minnetonka-based Wischermann Partners Inc. The official reopening is Sunday.
Earlier this year I wrote a story about Joe Grunnet, a downtown broker/resident who launched an online, interactive guide to the various downtown neighborhoods.
That site debuted with a comprehensive guide to the North Loop neighborhood, including all the juicy details about various condo and apartment buildings in that neighborhood.
Of course, Grunnet, is in the business of selling real estate, so there's a handy real-time link to condos and apartments that are for sale or lease. Even for those not shopping, the site is interesting because it includes "insider secrets," price comparisons and photos of individual units and common spaces.
Grunnet said that he's added the Mill District to the guide, which will provide even more fodder for real estate voyeurs. That neighborhood, which is sandwiched between the Downtown Business District and the Mississippi River, is home to the Guthrie on the River, Mill City Museum and other attractions.
Stay tuned for more additions to the guide, including the Central Business District, which has recently become a hot-bed for luxury apartments, Loring Park and the Uptown neighborhood.
- Jim Buchta
For the developers of the Stonebridge Lofts condos, the rooftop view these days is pretty dazzling.
This week, crews poured the top floor of the building, the only for-sale condos under construction in downtown Minneapolis. So far, demand has been strong. Just nine months after construction began, more than half of the 164 units have sold, said sales broker Colleen Ratzlaff LaBeau.
Developer Jim Stanton of Shamrock Development was on his way back from Africa and wasn’t on hand to celebrate. But Ratzlaff LaBeau, his daughter, served homemade brownies and a barbecue lunch to the 220 workers on the project at 1120 S. 2nd St.
LaBeau said nine of the buyers are from the neighboring Bridgewater condos, which were built by Stanton in 2012. And 80 percent of the people who have signed purchase agreements are paying cash, or have put down more than 20 percent, she said.
By comparison, Bridgewater — one of the last condo buildings to be finished during the housing crash — took over two years to presell half the units.
A new study by McGraw-Hill Construction shows that residential construction has far outpaced commercial activity in the Twin Cities metro area so far this year.
The monthly report, which tracks contracts for future construction in the 13-county metro area, shows that during the first seven months of the year, there was $817 million in non-residential construction so far this year, a 24 percent decline over last year.
Residential construction futures, including one- and two-family house and apartments, was worth more than $1.6 billion, a 51-percent increase over last year.
The same trend was true statewide, though the bulk of the state’s construction activity happened in the metro. Though new-home sales are going gangbusters, apartments have led the construction recovery.
A few new details about the proposed Whole Foods-anchored apartment complex in St. Paul emerged at the Union Park District Council meeting Tuesday night. The expansive project will forever change the Union Park neighborhood.
First, a rendering of the project, called The Vintage of Selby, was shown to a crowd of perhaps 75 people, most of whom live in the neighborhood. This portion of the project, located at the intersection of Snelling and Selby avenues, includes a 39,000-square-foot Whole Foods grocery, plus 208 apartment units, as well as parking for residents and store customers.
The size of the units is still being determined, but rents could range from $1,000 to $4,000 a month, said Chris Culp, president of the Excelsior Group, which has partnered with Ryan Cos. to develop the project.
A rendering was also released of the new Associated Bank branch, which is moving north on the property where Snelling intersects with Dayton Av. This will be the first building to be constructed, beginning early next year, with completion slated for May or June, according to Tony Barranco, vice president of development for Ryan Cos. Once it is completed work will begin on the grocery-apartment portion of the project.
All told, the project will take two years to complete, he said.
Given the busy nature of the street corner, traffic and parking were the top concerns of neighbors and business owners. The current parking lot at the Associated Bank branch is widely used as a free lot for other area businesses beyond the bank. Since that will go away once the new development is built, the question looms large as to where business patrons will park.
A report prepared by Craig Blakely, St. Paul's parking expert, suggested creating a parking improvement district in the area establishing paid on-street parking with kiosks, permit parking for employees working in the area, and a free parking lot on land east of Snelling Av. on Dayton, which would be leased by the city from Ryan and involve local businesses paying a fee to help maintain it. There was also talk of establishing free lot on the west side of Snelling Av.
Although it's still early in the planning process, Blakely urged business owners and neighbors to craft an comprehensive parking plan sooner, rather than later. "You are at a moment of change in your neighborhood," he said.
Janet Moore covers commercial real estate for the Star Tribune.
Despite a barrage of new apartments in the Twin Cities metro, renters still don't have the upper-hand. A second-quarter report from Marquette Advisors shows that the average vacancy rate in the 13-county metro fell 50 basis points to 2.3 percent, causing rents to increase 3 percent to $979. This represents the largest quarterly decline in vacancy in two years and the ninth consecutive quarter with vacancy rates below 3 percent.
Those declines come despite the addition of 1,142 new apartments during the quarter. But as a growing number of construction cranes hovering over the Twin Cities suggests, thousands of additional new apartments are on their way, raising questions and doubts about how long the good times will roll.
Marquette VP, Brent Wittenberg, says that while the Twin Cities continues to outperform the nation and the rental boom will march on, certain submarkets are expected to show some signs of softness in the coming months and years. Click here to learn more about the oversupply situation from Star Tribune Business columnist, Lee Schafer.
I'm working on a complete story for the Wednesday paper. Stay tuned.
- Jim Buchta