Minneapolis-based Stewart Lawrence Group recently announced a large new tenant at its Hopkins Cold Storage building, a notable achievement in the current weak market for industrial properties.

E.A. Sween Co., parent of Deli Express, has signed a five-year lease for 120,000 square feet at the facility at 325 N. Blake Road. The company is keeping its headquarters and production operations in Eden Prairie but moved its frozen-food distribution operations from Newport to the Hopkins building in December.

"This move to Hopkins allows us to efficiently manage all of our cold storage requirements under one roof, just nine miles from our production facility, and with room for expansion," said Rob Linner, senior vice president. The company produces more than 1 million sandwiches a week at the Eden Prairie facility for distribution nationwide.

Sween's move to the 275,000-square-foot Hopkins building boosts the property's occupancy to about 60 percent, according to Stew Stender, a Stewart Lawrence Group partner. Other tenants include Supervalu, NordicWare, Kotke Trucking and Hammond Cold Storage.

Industrial tenants were hard to come by last year in the Twin Cities area. The amount of available industrial space jumped by about 3.6 million square feet last year, according to Colliers Turley Martin Tucker. That was the largest increase since 1983, the commercial brokerage firm said.

A Stewart Lawrence business affiliate bought the property for $6.5 million in 2008. Since then, it has invested in several improvements in the building, including a new energy-saving roof, automated freezer doors and technology upgrades for computerized inventory management.

New brand for Chambers

Ralph Burnet's Chambers Hotel has a new name and brand affiliation.

The 60-room hotel at 901 Hennepin Av. S. was formerly independent, but last week became part of the Le Méridien chain. The hotel, which opened in 2006, has been renamed the Le Méridien Chambers Minneapolis.

The hotel will be the only Le Méridien in the Twin Cities, though there previously was another one in downtown Minneapolis. Hotelier Jim Graves opened his 255-room hotel across 1st Avenue N. from Target Center in 2003 as a Le Méridien franchise but ended the affiliation in 2005. Graves operated his hotel as an independent until about a month ago, when it joined the Wyndham Hotel Group.

The Le Méridien brand was started in Paris and since 2005 has been part of a collection of brands operated by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. Burnet already has experience with Starwood; in 2008 he opened the renovated Foshay Tower as a W Hotel, another one of Starwood's upscale brands.

The Chambers' affiliation with Le Méridien gives the hotel access to Starwood's reservation system and guest loyalty programs.

The new affiliation comes less than a year after Burnet replaced the hotel's restaurant, the Chambers Kitchen, with a new one operated by D'Amico & Partners. As part of the change, the restaurant also was relocated from the hotel's basement to the ground floor.

Susan Feyder • 612-673-1723