A developer is slated to buy a 1930s-era Hennepin County building on the edge of downtown Minneapolis for $9.4 million, with plans to renovate Century Plaza into offices and what it calls “flexible space.”
County officials recommended Tuesday an agreement with DEHL Properties LLC, which plans to close on the nearly 3-acre property later this year.
The county, which had housed its human services offices at Century Plaza since the mid-1990s, moved out earlier this month after putting the building up for sale.
County officials got four proposals and one letter of interest from prospective buyers for the building, which fills a full city block near the Minneapolis Convention Center and downtown hotels.
The Hennepin County Board is expected to take final action June 13 on the sale. If approved, sale proceeds likely will go into the county’s human services fund.
The nearly 300,000-square-foot building, which opened in 1932 as Miller Vocational High School, could have been headed to the wrecking ball. County documents earlier this year cited the high cost of renovation and the building’s proximity to the convention center, making the site a “likely candidate” for redevelopment.
A consultant studied whether the Streamline Moderne building could be designated as a local landmark or go on the National Register of Historic Places and concluded in a report that alterations in the 1980s disqualified it for consideration.
Miller Vocational School, named after a sister of early settlers, taught 2,300 students trades such as nursing, dressmaking and typesetting. A 1941 Minneapolis Star-Journal article called it “one of the most modern vocational schools in the country.”
The school closed in 1976, and the building was sold in the 1980s. Hillcrest Development converted it into office and retail space and removed the original recessed windows.
Hennepin County bought the building in 1996. The county had studied turning it into a 1,000-room hotel, but nothing materialized.
Earlier this month, human services employees in the building moved to six service centers around the county as part of a $41 million project to decentralize services and locate them near residents.