Construction of a 30-story luxury apartment tower in downtown Minneapolis began Monday — a project that is the latest addition to the city’s burgeoning residential neighborhood near the northern stretch of Nicollet Mall.
The 262-unit tower, which is being developed and built by Golden Valley-based M.A. Mortenson Co., is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2016.
Called 4Marq — a nod to its location at 400 Marquette Av. S. — the tower will join two additional upscale projects in the new residential neighborhood, the Nic on Fifth apartment tower and the Soo Line Apartments. They’re all within a block of one another in an area that was largely a surface parking lot, the fortress-like Baker Ramp and uninspired retail stores not too long ago.
Mortenson is no stranger to downtown Minneapolis. The company is currently building the $1 billion Vikings stadium on downtown’s eastern flank and a Hampton Inn & Suites hotel near the First Avenue nightclub, as well as renovating Target Center and redeveloping Block E into a Mayo Clinic sports medicine facility.
“Mortenson is bullish on the downtown real estate market,” said Bob Solfelt, vice president and general manager at Mortenson Development. “We think multifamily housing is as important as those construction projects, and we really like the massing of residential units downtown” with 4Marq.
The 4Marq tower is among about 2,000 apartment units proposed and under construction in Minneapolis, according to Maxfield Research, but it’s not the only high-rise building among those planned. On the same block, at Fifth St. S. and Nicollet Mall, Opus Group’s $100 million 253-unit Nic on Fifth upscale apartment tower will welcome new residents come Aug. 1.
The neighboring projects are “not competitors — we’re creating a residential community that can sustain more activity in that area,” Solfelt added.
Opus also said that it is in the “early phases of design for a residential tower and office building” on the Ritz block, located off Nicollet Mall between 3rd and 4th Streets. In addition, the city is expected to put out a request for proposals for the former Nicollet Hotel block on 3rd St. S., now home to a surface parking lot. That’s near the 222 Hennepin apartment building and Whole Foods grocery store that opened last year. Developer Jim Stanton is planning to build a high-rise condominium tower in the vicinity but is awaiting city approvals.
Developers say a common link among most of the projects is the Metro Transit light rail, which features a stop at 5th Street and Nicollet Mall, and will expand this Saturday with the addition of the Green Line to downtown St. Paul.
The projects “will become very nice, high-density residential anchors to the northern part of the mall,” said Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, a business group that seeks to double the population of the city’s central core to 70,000 by 2025.
Mortenson teamed up with New York-based American International Group as a capital partner and owner for the project. (Last week, an entity related to AIG paid $4.1 million for the site, according to property records.)
In addition, construction and permanent financing is being provided for 4Marq by New York Life Real Estate Investors, which manages about $36 billion in real estate debt and equity investment. Financing terms for the project were not disclosed.
Tod Elkins, principal of UrbanWorks Architecture, said that because 4Marq will be built on only a quarter of a city block, the building will have some unique design features, including an above-grade parking garage that will be wrapped in a shimmering double layer of perforated metal screen; because of the small floor plate, there are only 12 apartments per floor. “That’s something which has not been seen in the Twin Cities,” Elkins said.
The roof deck will be on the 30th floor, providing 360-degree views of downtown.
Solfelt said he expects the tower to be attractive to millennials and young professionals — “people who want to enjoy the downtown experience without ownership, and seeking a transit-friendly lifestyle.”