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Developer breaks ground on modern all-timber office building in North Loop, Minneapolis

artist rendering of T3 office development in Minneapolis' North Loop, courtesy of Hines.

Developer Hines has broken ground in Minneapolis' North Loop on its all-timber office building, the first commercial property in the U.S. to use an engineered wood material for its interior and structure.

The Houston-based real estate company announced Monday the start of construction on the 220,000-square-foot, seven-story office building (being called T3 for its emphasis on timber, transit and technology) that has garnered national attention.

Hines hired Vancouver-based Michael Green Architecture, in conjunction with DLR Group, to design the building. Michael Green is among the world's foremost experts in heavy timber construction and an advocate for timber as a sustainable building material. While old-growth timber -- the kind needed to support the weight of a tall building -- is unavailable for construction today, an engineering process that presses smaller pieces of wood together can re-create the load capacity of heavy timber.

Following the initial announcement in November, the Wall Street Journal showcased the project, saying it will be the tallest modern all-timber structure in the U.S. once completed. Hines said Monday that it expects the building to open in early fall 2016.

Locally, the building has been the subject of much chatter since Hines is building it without any tenants -- something the industry calls "speculative" development. The T3 site borders two existing Hines properties — the Dock Street Flats and Union Plaza, an office building. To the south is a surface parking lot where Hines, more than two years ago, proposed building a 20-story glass tower. 

And while many developers are hesitant to build new office space before signing a tenant, Hines' local leadership said in November they are confident its design will appropriately reflect the historical character of the neighborhood while offering a fresh space for companies looking to attract young talent.

“This office building combines the aesthetic, spatial volumes, and warmth of older brick and timber buildings, with state-of-the-art amenities and systems. This combination of ‘old & new’ allows for high densification and meaningful recruitment and retention benefits for T3’s occupants,” said Hines Managing Director Steve Luthman, in a news release.

Jones Lang LaSalle has been hired to lease the space.

Radisson Red coming to downtown St. Paul, its second Twin Cities location

A Radisson Red hotel, the chain's latest brand, is coming to downtown St. Paul across from the Xcel Energy Center. 

Minnetonka-based Opus Development Company and Minneapolis-based Greco, the joint partnership proposing a mixed-use development on the highly visible Seven Corners Gateway site, also announced Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group as a partner and owner of the hotel. The news comes about three months after Ryan Cos. announced it was building a Radisson Red in Minneapolis as a part of its Downtown East project near the Vikings stadium.

The City of St. Paul granted Opus and Greco "preliminary developer status" in October. Bounded by Smith Avenue, Kellogg Boulevard, W. 7th and 5th streets, the site serves as a primary entry point into St. Paul's urban core for traffic come off Interstate-35E and Interstate-94.  

“The revitalization of this site is an important step in building on the momentum of an exciting Downtown Saint Paul,” said Mayor Chris Coleman, in a news release. “We look forward to partnering with Carlson Rezidor, Opus and Greco LLC on this highly visible gateway to downtown.” 

The partners have until next April to flesh out details. If the city approves of each aspect of the proposal, they will negotiate for  final developer status.

"Red" is Radisson's effort to appeal to the younger generation of 20- and 30-somethings now occupying a large percentage of the hotel industry's clientele. Several other brands with an emphasi on a boutique, urban lifestyle experience are being proposed in downtown Minneapolis. The developers and hotelier are proposing a 150-room hotel with a bar, deli and lounge or social spaces. The brand is said to emphasis art, design, music and fashion. 

Carlson Rezidor, also based in Minnetonka, is one of the world's largest hospitality companies with 1,370 hotels in operation or under development.