With the city of Brooklyn Park considering the approval of another in a series of new commercial building projects along the Hwy. 610 corridor, the development momentum in the northwestern suburb shows no signs of slowing down.
If anything, a rare combination of available vacant land relatively close to the urban core, ongoing infrastructure improvements, the driving force of Target Corp. and an improving economy is likely to accelerate the building boom despite the city's recent rejection of some projects, industry and government players predict.
This month, the city is working on the terms of a $400,000 tax increment financing deal to help United Properties proceed with the $25 million first phase of a new business park to be anchored by the Wurth Adams Nut & Bolt Co., which is seeking to relocate there from its current home in Maple Grove. The developer is asking for the financing to offset the costs of relocating a natural gas pipeline that crosses the 36-acre parcel in the southeast quadrant of the Hwy. 610/169 interchange.
If approved, the Wurth Adams effort would be the fifth commercial construction project begun in the past 12 months near the Hwy. 610/169 interchange, joining a list that includes Ryan Cos.' 650,000 square feet of new office space at Target's Brooklyn Park campus, its manufacturing facility for Japan's Olympus Surgical Technologies and the PrairieCare adolescent psychiatric care facility.
The spate of new projects will add 5,000 new workers to the city.
Well-heeled developers including United Properties, Ryan, CSM Corp. and Scannell Properties, as well as landowners such as TCF Financial Corp. and Dale Properties, have each staked out claims near the interchange, which still has nearly 1,500 acres of undeveloped land thanks to the relative newness of Hwy. 610, which is to be built out to I-94 by 2016.
Commercial real estate analysts say the securing of state funding to complete the highway to I-94, as well as Target's massive expansion nearby, is driving interest in the remaining sites, making it likely the Brooklyn Park boom will continue.
A request for comment to United Properties went unreturned, and a Wurth Adams company official declined to comment.
The longtime broker said while there's little doubt the Hwy. 610 development will continue, the city has set high standards within the corridor's zoning regime in a bid to attract high-quality jobs and buildings. Some projects pitched for the corridor have been rejected — a FedEx Ground sorting facility proposed by Scannell was turned down and has since moved to Rogers. Also, a 340-townhouse project envisioned for the TCF-owned parcel was rejected in February after disagreement over whether it was the right fit.
Brooklyn Park's business development manager, Amy Baldwin, said she also is confident the activity spurt will continue along Hwy. 610 despite the tough scrutiny each project is being given.
"One of the driving factors, certainly, is the economy rebounding," she said. "Businesses are growing and expanding and are confident in making real estate purchases or signing leases. Then there was the announcement in November that funding is in place to expand Hwy. 610 to I-94. But another big factor is that the city was ready for it. We were being patient for what we wanted to see along the corridor as far as solid users. Olympus is a good example and it's kicking off the physical activity coming out of the ground."
Development activity along the corridor is limited to where sewer and water utilities reach, but that universe will be expanded when the city extends lines west across Hwy. 169 this summer, opening up acreage in the southwest quadrant of the interchange known as the Gateway site.
"That's one of the next areas that will likely be developed," Baldwin said.
The 89-acre site, once controlled by developer Steve Hoyt, was bought out of foreclosure in 2012 by a group of investors led by Michael Gresser, owner of Eagan-based concrete and masonry contractor Gresser Cos.
Don Jacobson is a St. Paul-based freelance writer and former editor of the Minnesota Real Estate Journal.