In a surprise move, the Illinois-based owner of the IDS Center took the signature building off the market Monday just five months after listing it.

When the 57-story tower was listed in July, owner Inland American Real Estate Trust said it was repositioning its portfolio to focus on retail properties, student housing and lodging investments. At the time, Minneapolis' tallest skyscraper wasn't slated to be part of the mix.

But now, the Oak Brook-based real estate investment trust (REIT) apparently has changed course.

"As we come to the end of the marketing process for the IDS Center, we have decided to hold on to this iconic asset," Inland's vice president Jeff Manno said in a statement. "This is a great property. There isn't and never was an urgency to sell this property and we continue to believe in its strength in the Minneapolis marketplace."

The news came after a Winnipeg-based REIT issued an unusual news release early Monday denying reports that it was the would-be buyer.

Armin Martens, CEO of Artis Real Estate Investment Trust, said the firm is "not under contract or letter of intent" to buy the iconic tower. The blogosphere lit up last week when a New Jersey real estate investment journal reported that Artis was under contract to buy the IDS for about $260 million.

When asked late Monday if the IDS Center garnered any serious offers, Inland spokeswoman Nicole Spreck reiterated via e-mail that "there is no urgency to sell the asset. It has served Inland American well the last six years and we believe the iconic asset will continue to do so." She declined to comment when asked if an offer from Artis had fallen apart.

The office portion of the property is 95 percent leased, while the overall structure, including a sub-level, is 92 percent leased.

In July, Inland hired Chicago-based HFF Inc. to market the property. The news came at a time when two other skyscrapers in downtown Minneapolis were for sale -- the Capella Tower and the former Multifoods Tower, which includes City Center.

Last month, 33 S. Sixth St., the building formerly known as the Multifoods Tower, sold for $205.5 million to San Francisco-based Shorenstein Properties LLC.

The post-modern IDS tower, brainchild of architect Philip Johnson, opened in 1972 and is perhaps best known for its public area, the Crystal Court, which was featured in the introduction to "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

More recently, the building has served as home to some of the Twin Cities' top law firms, restaurants Basil's, Mission and Cosi, as well as popular retailers Gap and Banana Republic.

Inland bought the building in 2006 for $278 million. However, at the time of its listing last summer, local real estate experts expected the 40-year-old property to fetch less than that.

Manno, Inland's vice president for transactions, said last July that the timing for the listing was "right given the stability of the Minneapolis market, the office tower's 95 percent occupancy and the strong capital markets environment."

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752