The former home of the St. Paul Saints is bustling again, but with an energy unrelated to baseball.
The Midway Stadium Business Center has opened after the first tenant moved in late last month.
The site was once a dumping ground for the nearby State Fair. Then a quirky stadium was built that eventually attracted quirky, minor league baseball. Since the Saints moved downtown in 2015, the stadium was torn down and a new industrial building was built, one with energy conservation features that made it the first multitenant industrial building in Minnesota with LEED certification.
“We thought it was a home run site,” said Brandon Champeau, vice president of development for United Properties, which partnered with the St. Paul Port Authority to redevelop the property. “For a pure industrial location, it was second to none.”
The 189,000-square-foot business center sits on 12.8 acres on Energy Park Drive close to Snelling Avenue. Interactive solutions company Tierney Bros., which has 100 employees who work out of the 52,500 square feet that it leases, is the first tenant for the park.
While the property looks unrecognizable from its Midway Stadium days, at least one piece of memorabilia may be preserved. A blue awning which had been atop of a souvenir stand at the old stadium will hopefully be incorporated into a public art display.
A big impetus for the development was to return the site to the tax base and stimulate local job creation, said Monte Hilleman, senior vice president of real estate redevelopment for the Port Authority. The property’s visibility and accessibility with it being close to the highway and both Minneapolis and St. Paul made it appealing for development, he said.
“This is what Energy Park Drive is supposed to be used for,” he said.
The site was owned by the city of St. Paul, but was acquired by the Port Authority as part of a land swap for the Lowertown property where the Saints’ CHS Field now stands.
The site was environmentally contaminated, with diesel fuel, animal waste and methane from its time as a dump. Cleanup took a year and a half and cost around $5.5. million.
In 2014, United Properties came to a deal with the Port Authority, which agreed to cover the costs of the land and infrastructure, including the cost for tearing down the stadium. United Properties paid for the new construction and management costs.
Besides being a place for industrial revival, the Midway Stadium land presented a chance to push the boundaries for a sustainable, industrial complex, developers said.
Sand underneath the parking lot helps to absorb water. There are also interlocking pavers in different areas such as near the truck dock and the application of an advanced porous pavement that helps prevent stormwater runoff.
In the spring, a solar panel system will be installed onto the roof that will provide enough energy to power the exterior lights and save tenants money on common area maintenance.
“The financial benefits will stay with them for years and years,” Hilleman said.
United Properties has even turned down potential tenants who didn’t want to buy into the idea of upholding green practices, Champeau said.
For Tierney Bros., the move comes at a critical time. In the last five years, it has grown from annual revenue of about $43 million in 2012, to more than $80 million this year.
Tierney, which helps install products like projectors and other audiovisual systems at businesses, schools and government offices, had split its campus between an office space on University Avenue in the Prospect Park neighborhood of Minneapolis, and a warehouse space on nearby Malcolm Avenue. At its new location, it can consolidate its space, said Michael Tierney, director of operations.
“Having this new-build and this fresh industrial building allowed us to do everything we want to do,” Tierney said.
Tierney was running out of space at its old offices, but now it has room to grow. Its new digs offer the company a chance to demonstrate its best products in a show floor that includes meeting spaces with 84-inch touch screens. The cutting-edge space is also a good retention and recruitment tool for its own employees, Tierney said.
Tierney said, some of the new office’s most exciting places are a space that will allow technicians to build out and test technology and the 17,000-square-foot warehouse space which is almost double the size of its old site.