With the workstations, beanbag chairs and coffee mugs, the fifth floor of the former Dayton’s store in Minneapolis has transitioned from department store to downtown office.
The staged work suite along with a new three-level retail atrium that opens up the bottom floors signify the recent progress at the $214 million Dayton’s Project, which is being rehabbed into a contemporary office and retail complex. But with most floors still incomplete, there is still much work to do.
“Minneapolis is a ‘show me’ type city. … We’ve been working, working, working these last few months, these last few years frankly, but now that we have certain aspects of the project to show, leasing activity has really picked up,” said Mercedes Barsh, vice president of the Chicago-based Telos Group, a partner in the development that has helped lead the planning and execution of the Dayton’s Project.
The 1.2 million-square-foot site on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis has been shuttered from public view for more than two years since it was sold to New York real estate firm 601W Cos. for $59 million and closed as a Macy’s department store. Leaders of the project wouldn’t say if any office tenants have signed leases. The only confirmed retailer is a food hall developed by television personality Andrew Zimmern, though leaders have hinted that another dining establishment will occupy the old JB Hudson Jewelers space on the ground floor.
But the project is inching closer to completion with a large atrium that was cut between floors to connect the food hall in the basement with first-floor and skyway retail. Designers are nearly finished with an office suite on the fifth floor that will be used in large part as a marketing tool to help potential tenants imagine offices at the site.
This past summer, the project was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and new Dayton’s signage was erected on the outside of the building.
But the Dayton’s Project is still very much a work in progress. More than 300 workers can be found on site each day, and about $9 million is spent on the project each month, Barsh said.
During a Tuesday morning tour, workers were sanding the ceiling in one section and welding in another.
“Every day something new happens,” said Bob Gardner, chief executive of Gardner Builders, the general contractor for the project. “A wall that wasn’t there before is there today.”
Opening the atrium was a “complicated task” because it actually cut through two structures made of different materials that are part of the site, Gardner said. With its grand staircases, the atrium was a major design component of the project, which is being designed by the Gensler firm’s Minneapolis office.
Most elements of the redevelopment such as the food hall will not be finished until the spring of 2020. The amenity floor — which will include a 10,000-square-foot fitness center with a boxing ring, a library-like study and an indoor “winter lounge” — had been previously planned for an end-of-November reveal but now is scheduled for completion in the spring as well. Some of the delay was due to the large scale of the amenities and the quality that developers want to deliver with the project, Barsh said.
“I don’t believe that after the Dayton’s Project, there will be a building that has bigger and better amenities [in Minneapolis],” said Erin Fitzgerald, a principal with Transwestern, which is responsible for office leasing.