Hennepin County is now the owner of the Thrivent Financial building in downtown Minneapolis.
The $55 million purchase of the glassy, angular structure was finalized Thursday, according to Michael Noonan, the county’s real estate manager. The County Board approved the purchase almost a year ago, with some commissioners calling it expensive and unnecessary.
But the county won’t be expanding into the building — situated at 625 4th Av. S., near the county’s Government Center — anytime soon. It first needs to wait for Thrivent to finish the construction of its new headquarters, which broke ground in July.
“Thrivent couldn’t just sell us the building and move out if they didn’t have a place to go,” Noonan said.
That corporate campus, on the northern half of the block across 5th Avenue S., will open in the spring of 2020, at which time the county will move into the vacated building.
For now, the not-for-profit firm is leasing its current space from the county. “They’re going to be operating and maintaining the building,” Noonan said.
All the pieces surrounding the sale of the 17-story Thrivent building have been a “tremendously positive development” for downtown’s growing East Town neighborhood, said Steve Cramer, the president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council.
“That Thrivent building had kind of marked the edge of downtown in many ways, and now we’ve busted out through that edge,” he said.
County offices, Cramer said, will be a good use for the building. “They have been trying to consolidate their workforce in and around the Government Center complex, so this was a natural place for them to accommodate some of their expansion needs,” he said.
The county is now determining what departments and employees will move into the Thrivent building, County Administrator David Hough said. This will include selling and canceling leases for other buildings it now occupies.
Accounting and administrative positions at the Government Center are likely to be moved into the building, Noonan said. The county is also thinking about moving back some office jobs from Hennepin County Medical Center and Hennepin Healthcare buildings, he said.
Commissioner Mike Opat, who along with Jeff Johnson voted against the purchase last year, said it was unnecessary for those jobs to be moved into the building.
“[Those are] activities that could be anywhere and certainly don’t need to be in a downtown office tower,” he said. “There’s less expensive space where they could be located.”
He said he’s interested to learn the condition of the building and see if it will need major renovations. “It’s not a new building; it hasn’t received major work to my knowledge,” he said.
The county also bought 332 parking spaces in a ramp that is now under construction as part of a development in the half-lot next to the building.
Meanwhile, developer Sherman Associates canceled plans to build apartments and a hotel on the southern half of the block where Thrivent’s new headquarters will be. Thrivent also plans to sell its remaining parking lot in the area to a developer looking to build apartments and a diner.