Assignment: Dome area site

  • Article by: SUSAN FEYDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 22, 2009 - 10:18 PM

Ideas for potential projects at an underground parking ramp near the Metrodome will get a workout from college students trying out their skills as developers.

A downtown Minneapolis site that could be at the heart of a Vikings stadium redevelopment will be the focus of a competition that challenges college students to analyze and develop projects.

The underground Downtown East parking ramp at 425 Park Av. S., adjacent to the Metrodome and below the light-rail transit station, is the site to be analyzed in this year's University Challenge sponsored by the Minnesota chapter of NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association. The competition allows student teams to get real-world experience by preparing feasibility studies on potential projects. At the same time, NAIOP members, who evaluate the students' work, can get a look at prospective employees.

Teams from the University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas, St. Cloud State University, Marquette University, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Northern Iowa will present their development proposals at a NAIOP meeting next month. The judges will include Bob Lux and Phil Jaffe, partners in the parking ramp's Minneapolis owner, Alatus Partners.

The ramp was one of five Alatus bought from the city in 2007. The Vikings have announced plans to include the site as part of a larger stadium redevelopment project that would need to secure public financing to proceed. If the Vikings do not exercise an option to buy the ramp, Alatus would eventually develop a project on the site.

Lux said last week he's looking forward to seeing what ideas the student teams come up with to develop the site.

"It'll be interesting to see how creative they are, and whether they can achieve the highest and best use for the site and the neighborhood," he said.

Other judges include Mark Reiling of Colliers Turley Martin Tucker, Bill Wardell of Welsh Companies, Tom Lander of Mortenson Development and Shannon Van Gemert of CBRE/Melody.

Warehouse District plan

City planners this week will consider a plan by Hunt Associates to build a 15-story residential project on the site of the Merit Building in Minneapolis' Warehouse District.

First Avenue Lofts would have 259 residential units, plus 7,400 square feet of ground-level commercial space and 225 parking spaces at 103 N. 2nd St. The Merit Building would be demolished to make way for the new development.

Partner Dan Hunt said his firm has the site under contract. He said he still has to secure financing for the $55 million project but hopes to begin construction in the fourth quarter this year.

Susan Feyder • 612-673-1723

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