All-timber office building rising in North Loop

Developer Hines has broken ground in Minneapolis' North Loop on its all-timber office building, the first commercial property in the United States to use an ­engineered wood material for its interior and structure.

The Houston-based real estate company announced last week the start of construction on the 220,000-square-foot, seven-story office building that has garnered national attention.

It is being called T3 for its emphasis on timber, transit and technology.

Hines hired Vancouver-based Michael Green Architecture, in conjunction with DLR Group, to design the building.

Michael Green is among the world's foremost experts in heavy timber construction and an advocate for timber as a sustainable building material. While old-growth timber — the kind needed to support the weight of a tall building — is unavailable for construction today, an engineering process that presses smaller pieces of wood together can re-create the load capacity of heavy timber.

Following the initial announcement of the development in November, the Wall Street Journal showcased the project, saying it will be the tallest modern all-timber structure in the U.S. once completed. Hines said Monday that it expects the building to open in early fall 2016.


'Grocery gap' exists in Minnesota, poll finds

There's a "grocery gap" in many parts of Minnesota, according to a new poll commissioned by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

Many consumers can't take advantage of healthy foods because they don't have a nearby store that sells them. The poll found that 56 percent of those questioned don't believe that all Minnesotans have access to healthy food, regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic background.

More than one-third ­surveyed said they travel at least 10 minutes to a full-service grocery store, with longer times more likely outside the Twin Cities.

Janelle Waldock, director of the center, said nutritious foods are important for overall health and well-being, but there isn't a single answer for how to increase access to them. "We hear a growing desire for more access to healthy food in Minnesota communities, schools and workplaces, but there are varying perspectives regarding who is responsible for making these positive changes a reality," she said.

Waldock said that consumers can encourage existing retailers to offer more healthy options, and support new businesses that want to open in underserved areas.

For more information, go to www.centerforpreventionmn.com.