Buyer emerges for Rand Tower in Minneapolis

  • Article by: JIM BUCHTA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 10, 2014 - 9:10 PM

A Oregon firm is buying the Art Deco office building in downtown Minneapolis.

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Two Mercury-like figures, each with a plane, ornament one of the five entries to the Rand Tower at 527 Marquette Avenue. The Art Deco building was built in 1928, designed by Holabird and Root.

An Art Deco gem in downtown Minneapolis has an out-of-town buyer.

Felton Properties Inc. of Portland, Ore., plans to buy the 26-story Rand Tower, a sleek limestone office building in the heart of downtown, for an undisclosed sum. The deal is expected to close in a couple weeks.

Felton is a family owned real estate investment company with about 3 million square feet of office space primarily in Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City and Denver. The company is new to the Twin Cities and plans to make additional acquisitions in the near future, said CEO Matt Felton.

“This will be the first of several deals in the Minneapolis metro market,” he said.

Felton is among a growing number of national investors targeting high-profile buildings in the Twin Cities metro, which is attractive to private and institutional investors because of the region’s healthy economy. With a low unemployment rate, a bevy of Fortune 500 companies and a well-educated workforce, the metro area is an attractive market for long-term investments, Felton said.

Plus, he said, prices in the Twin Cities aren’t as inflated as they are in many other markets. “We’ve generally gravitated to the coastal markets,” Felton said. “But there’s so much institutional money ­chasing real estate in those markets.”

The Rand Tower was built in 1929 by Rufus Rand as the headquarters for Minneapolis Gas Co. and for a time was one of the two tallest buildings west of the Mississippi River.

The building, Felton said, is particularly appealing because it’s one of the few historic office towers that hasn’t been converted for other uses. The nearby Fo­shay Tower, another notable Art Deco treasure that was completed in 1929, is now a restaurant and hotel. And the former Soo Line Building, a 19-story skyscraper that was built as the headquarters for the First National Bank in 1915, is now an apartment building.

The Rand Tower is currently owned by Twin Cities-based Hempel Cos., which has its offices in the building, and Baltimore-based Alex Brown Realty. The building last sold for $10.2 million in 2008, according to public records, and since then Hempel has invested millions in upgrades. The deal was brokered by Ryan Watts of the CBRE Group in Bloomington.

The building has several well-known tenants, including Snow Kreilich Architects, and a bustling skyway level with several small take-out restaurants. It’s now about 13 percent vacant.

Felton said he plans to make improvements that will help make the building more appealing for a range of businesses that need 300 to 5,500 square feet of space.

“We won’t do a rehab or a redo, but we want to significantly upgrade the vacant space there to differentiate it from much of the other generic office space that’s out there,” he said.

Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376



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