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.

Rochester to seek construction firm for Mayo Civic Center Expansion

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter under Architecture Updated: November 20, 2014 - 5:24 PM

Mayo Civic Center Expansion Rendering

The City of Rochester is seeking a construction firm to build its $79-million Mayo Civic Center expansion.

This is just latest development in a recent flurry of infrastructure investment to the city's downtown area. Rochester plans to issue a request for proposals Friday, with hopes of beginning construction during the first quarter next year. 

The civic center will comprise more than 200,000-square-feet of event space, nearly doubling the size, once the planned expansion is complete.

A Grand Ballroom, 14 breakout rooms, renovation to the existing Presentation Hall and a widening of the Rochester Civic Theater are some of the additions. 

“The new space is specifically designed to meet the needs of today’s meetings and conventions, and to bring larger events to Rochester,” said Brad Jones, director of the Rochester Convention & Visitors Bureau, in a news release. 

Meanwhile, 85 miles west, Mankato Civic Center is also undergoing a $30-million expansion.


Twin Cities apartment sales nearing a record

Posted by: Jim Buchta under Architecture, Buying Updated: November 20, 2014 - 10:40 AM

Trammell Crow execs, Johnny Carlson and Grady Hamilton, at Junction Flats the day after the deal closed.

Trammell Crow execs, Johnny Carlson and Grady Hamilton, at Junction Flats the day after the deal closed.

Twin Cities apartment buildings are trading nearly as fast as developers can build them. Last week we reported that Trammell Crow sold the Junction Flats in the North Loop neighborhood to Greystar, a national development company that recently built the sprawling Elan apartments in the Uptown neighborhood in South Minneapolis.

The big news this week is that the Opus Group sold the barely used 253-unit Nic on Fifth building in downtown Minneapolis for what's rumored to be a record price for a Twin Cities apartment building.

What's next? The 222 Hennepin development in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, including 286 luxury apartments and a 40,000 square-foot Whole Foods store, hit the market this week and is expected to close within the next few months. (Here’s a link to the listing.)

This flurry of deals represents an unusual moment for the Twin Cities apartment market, which is benefitting from steady declines in the homeownership rate and a better-than-average jobs recovery. National investors can't resist. Apartment building sales (based on volume) this year could set a record depending on when the 222 deal closes. Stay tuned for more coverage on this topic.

New offices, hotel, apartments proposed at West End development

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter under Architecture Updated: November 19, 2014 - 11:11 AM

(submitted site proposal)

The West End development in St. Louis Park may soon undergo a significant growth spurt if a five-building proposal by Florida-based DLC Residential is approved. 

The developer is presenting its plans for two 11-story office buildings, a hotel, parking ramp and two multi-tenant residential buildings at the city's planning commission meeting Wednesday night. 

DLC hopes to purchase the 13.48-acre site from Duke Realty. The site straddles the St. Louis Park-Golden Valley border, with about seven and six acres in each city's respective boundaries. Duke received preliminary approvals in 2008 for the first of four office buildings it hoped to build on the land. Both cities granted Duke several extensions, but the company never applied for final approvals.

The West End Redevelopment area includes 49 acres of land at the southwest corner of I-394 and Highway 100. The mixed-use hub is now home to The Shops at West End shopping center, The Flats at West End apartments, the Moneygram and 1600 office towers, and several restaurants. The Millennium at West End apartment complex is currently under construction. 

If DLC gains both cities' approval, the site would see an additional 363 apartment units, 2,600 parking stalls, 150 hotel rooms and 706,000 square feet of office space.

Twin Cities ranked most affordable for homebuyers

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter under Buying Updated: November 17, 2014 - 12:50 PM

Minneapolis-St. Paul does not have the cheapest housing stock in the nation, but its higher wages make it the most affordable city for home ownership among the 25 largest U.S. metro areas, according to a new report. 

Interest.com calculated its new rankings based on several criteria. The study found that the median household income in the Twin Cities is a little more than $67,000 -- nearly $15,000 above the national average -- and the median-priced home is nearly $213,000. 

The margin isn't as great as last year, but the median income exceeds the wage requirements for purchasing a home by 23 percent. These figures, when combined with median property taxes and homeowners insurance rates, helped lift Minneapolis-St. Paul from the No. 2 spot in 2013 to No. 1 this year.

“The places that are the most unaffordable are locked in by some geographic constraint. Minneapolis (area) can grow 360 degrees. Most of the time when you talk about this, you talk about sprawl and you think of it in negative terms. But the bottom line is,sprawl keeps your prices down," said Mike Sante, managing editor of Interest.com. 

Atlanta won the crown last year, but swapped rank with the Twin Cities this year. St. Louis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Phoenix, Washington, Dallas and Houston rounded out the top ten.

Interest.com suggests that median-income workers cannot afford a home in the remaining large metro areas because the wages don't match the real estate costs

San Francisco, not surprisingly, scrapes the bottom with San Diego, New York, Los Angeles and Miami also receiving "F" scorecards. Moving up from the bottom, the other unaffordable cities are Boston, Seattle, Sacramento, Milwaukee, Denver, Portland, San Antonio and Tampa.

“Low mortgage rates are helping home affordability to some extent, but the key ingredient – which has been missing to this point – is substantial income growth,” Sante said in a statement. "Affordability would improve at a faster pace if wage growth would pick up."

For comparison, the median-income earner in Minneapolis-St.Paul may make about $10,000 less than the median-income earner in San Francisco. But, the median-home price in the Twin Cities is $213,000 to San Francisco's $770,000 -- a gap that the wage difference doesn't even come close to making up. 

Sante says Minneapolis-St. Paul has a great housing market with better median-priced inventory than other cities, but says wages have to keep growing.

Year-over-year wages grew by an average of 2 percent across the 25 largest metropolitan areas, but the Twin Cities only grew 1.38 percent this year.

“If that continues, homes in the Twin Cities will be much less affordable in a decade,” Sante said.

Latitude 45 retail space is fully leased during construction; Ryan Burnet signs restaurant lease

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter under Architecture Updated: November 13, 2014 - 1:45 PM

The retail space is now fully leased at Latitude 45, the high-end apartment building still under construction on Washington Av. downtown Minneapolis.

The 10,000 square feet of ground-level retail will be split into two businesses: a destination restaurant and massage spa.

Restauranteur Ryan Burnet will fill more than 6,000 square feet at the corner of 3rd and Washinton avenues with what he hopes is an "approachable destination" restaurant.

The developer, Alatus, announced in March that Burnet -- who has seen success in the Minneapolis restaurant scene with Bar La Grassa, Burch Steakhouse & Pizza and Barrio Tequila Bar -- had signed a letter of intent to open a new concept at Latitude 45.

Burnet, who officially signed the lease two weeks ago, said the concept is still being fleshed out, but there are certain segments of the dining scene he hopes to capture with this new restaurant.

"I want people who live in the building to feel comfortable coming down in their sweatpants for a beer on Saturday night with people in business suits at a table nearby," Burnet said. 

There is no shortage of quality restaurants in Minneapolis, but Burnet wants this to be a staple for the extended neighborhood.

"The goal is for people who would want to come back multple times a week, not just once a month," Burnet said. 

To do this, he said, "the bar will have a lack of pretense and that will be reflected in the cost structure as well."

Massage Envy will occupy more than 4,000 square feet at the other corner, 4th and Washington avenues, fitting the lifestyle of the building's likely clientele. The Star Tribune reported in March that Alatus was targeting empty-nesters and "aspirational" young professionals. 

Andrea Christenson of Cassidy Turley brokered the deals. This is the only downtown residential building to pre-lease all of its retail space while still under construction, she said. 

"People will want to live in this building just knowing there’s a Ryan Burnet restaurant downstairs," Christenson said. "We really think that being near the river, in that neighborhood and being skyway connected is the perfect storm."

The 319 apartment units will be ready for move-in by the summer. Burnet anticipates being open for business in September 2015. 


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