Wellington Management Inc., a St. Paul-based developer, announced plans Thursday for a five-story office and retail complex in the West Midway area, its third major project near the planned Central Corridor light rail line.

Work is scheduled to begin late this year on the 100,000-square-foot project at 2700 University Av., St. Paul, according to Tanya Bell, vice president of acquisitions and development. Bell said the $24 million complex, to be called 2700 the Avenue, should be completed by the end of 2009.

The St. Paul City Council last week approved $2.4 million in tax increment financing for the development.

Riverside Market, which closed its store on Franklin Avenue in 2006, will have a 14,000-square-foot store on the ground level. Bell said she's looking for restaurant and service-oriented retailers for the remaining 8,000 square feet of ground-level space.

Bell said Wellington will occupy some of the office space, relocating from its current facilities on Energy Park Drive. Other office tenants will likely be professional services businesses, like accounting or law firms, she said.

Wellington bought the site on the southeast corner of University Avenue and Emerald Street about three years ago. It demolished an older office building and originally planned to build a condominium and retail complex to be anchored by Riverside Market. Bell said the change to offices was dictated not only by a downturn in the condo market, but also by a sense that the area's office market was strengthening.

The project, which will be across the street from a future light rail station, joins two other nearby condo developments built by Wellington. Metro Lofts, a 67-unit project, is next door. Emerald Gardens, a 212-unit development, is about two blocks away.

Wellington said it will seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the project, with proximity to mass transit serving as one of the qualifying features.

Susan Feyder • 612-673-1723