Gaviidae II to get a $3.8M face-lift

  • Article by: JANET MOORE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 15, 2013 - 6:28 AM

The Nicollet Mall mainstay’s new owner says the retail complex needs a freshening.

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Long after the lunchtime throng had settled back into their cubicles, Gaviidae Common II was quiet one recent weekday afternoon, almost eerily so.

But the new owner of the downtown Minneapolis shopping center, on Nicollet Mall between S. 5th and 6th streets and anchored by the now-shuttered Neiman Marcus store, has plans to freshen up the space. Currently, only 57 percent of the retail center is occupied, including the lower level that once featured Morton’s steakhouse.

California-based KBS Real Estate Investment Trust III bought the signature Minneapolis property this month as part of a $118.1 million deal that included the adjacent 40-story RBC Plaza office building.

The seller was Brookfield Properties Inc., a New York-based real estate firm that is divesting its Minneapolis real estate. Late last year, Brookfield sold City Center and the former International Multifoods Tower to a San Francisco firm, Shorenstein Properties, for about $207 million. Brookfield, however, still owns Gaviidae I, anchored by the Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth store, and the actual Neiman Marcus building.

KBS intends to spend $3.8 million to retool the retail and restaurant options at Gaviidae II and spruce up the RBC Plaza lobby. When the deal was announced, KBS regional president Rodney Richerson said it’s a good time to “rethink the four-story retail section.”

Michael Druskin, CEO of Len Druskin boutiques, said he’d prefer to see more unique retailers with compelling merchandise inhabit Gaviidae II, where he operates two stores bearing the Druskin imprimatur.

“I hope people living downtown support downtown by coming here to shop, ” he said. “But it’s up to us to make sure our offerings are compelling and what people are looking for.”

Retail at Gaviidae II, which also includes Ann Taylor, Talbots and R.F. Moeller Jewelers, is now on the street and skyway levels. And the State Fare food court — popular with time-pressed office workers on a budget — spans the fourth floor.

Changes for restaurants

That will likely change. KBS said this week it is looking at different options for the food court and a more-suitable location for the restaurant tenants. Some of them could relocate to the first two floors.

The new owner is also looking to attract a mix of fast-casual restaurants, white-tablecloth dining and service retail offerings to primarily serve tenants in the RBC Tower, plus other downtown workers.

The street-level entrance off Nicollet Mall — also known as “Minnesota’s Main Street” — and the lower-level valet parking entrances will be given a “more contemporary, professional look” which will “carry up through the skyway level,” KBS said in an e-mail statement, which noted, “Right now, many of the colors and finishes are dated and in need of a face-lift.”

KBS said it will hire an architect to create better flow lines between the RBC Plaza office tower lobby and Gaviidae’s Nicollet Mall entrance. This may involve filling in part of the Gaviidae atrium between the ground floor and the lower level to create a direct pathway between the two.

The wall between the RBS lobby and Gaviidae could either be modified, or glass walls erected to create visual openness and continuity. A fitness center may be located on the lower level.

On the third and fourth floors, KBS plans to create a large block of open office space that could be built out for traditional use by multiple tenants, or it may attract businesses looking for an open footprint.

The streetscape and Nicollet Mall address provide “an urban vibrancy” and, with up to 60,000 square feet of leasable space, it’s the largest contiguous block of office space on the Mall, KBS said.

Complex opened in 1989

  • related content

  • Gaviidae II, built on a site once occupied by a J.C. Penney store, is next to the RBC Plaza office tower. Gaviidae opened in phases beginning in 1989.

  • The State Fare food court, popular with time-pressed office workers, spans the fourth floor of Gaviidae II. “Many of the colors and finishes are dated and in need of a face-lift,” the building’s new owner says.

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