On a busy corner just south of downtown Minneapolis, a construction zone has sat idle for months. Not far from a soggy hole in the ground lies a white sign bearing the name Thor Construction.
Work on a four-story apartment building on the lot at Park and Franklin avenues was suddenly halted earlier this year when Thor Cos., a prominent builder in the Twin Cities, shut down its construction operation amid financial troubles and lawsuits. The site has been untouched for more than two months and could stay that way for the foreseeable future, another consequence of the company’s abrupt demise.
Once the state’s largest minority-owned company, Thor has been removed as a partner in the city of Minneapolis’ massive Upper Harbor Terminal project.
The apartment project at 1935 Park Av., a collaboration between Thor and developer McGlynn Partners, needs a new contractor, project leaders said. They did not say when construction would restart or when the apartments would open.
Damaris Hollingsworth, who previously worked for Thor and is the project’s architect, said she began receiving calls when construction stopped from people wondering whether the apartment complex would be finished.
“We’re still going to build it. It’s not abandoned,” Hollingsworth, who now has her own firm, said last week. “It’s not going to be left there like it is, which is the concern ... that the community might have.”
The apartment complex was the only Thor project with active building permits after the company announced it was shutting down in late April, according to city spokesman Casper Hill.
Plans approved last year depicted a building with 44 units. Hollingsworth said the team was looking to build with prefabricated “modules” that are installed on the foundation, a method considered to be faster and more environmentally friendly than on-site construction. She said she is unsure whether the project would still be built this way, something that would depend on when construction picks back up.
People in the neighborhood were paying attention to the project because they wanted the rents to remain within reach for them, she said.
The city’s planning department had not received any updates from Thor about the project, city spokesman John Louis said last week. McGlynn Partners is now the sole developer.
“We just put the site, essentially, to bed, and have been working to get a new contractor,” said Patrick McGlynn of McGlynn Partners. He did not go into detail about the search, saying it was “just an interview process.”
McGlynn said he has kept the Ventura Village Neighborhood Organization up to date on the project. The association did not respond to requests for comment.
Countless cars and pedestrians streamed through the Park and Franklin intersection on an rainy weekday in July. The 15,600-square-feet corner lot remained closed off by chain-link fencing.
In the center of the site was a hole divided by concrete walls into sections and bordered by planks and hay bales. Excavated dirt and black tarps surrounded the hole, and more planks, tarps and plastic pipes were strewn at the far end of the site. Four bare concrete walls projected from the ground.