Since 2011, Ralph and Jan Savage have been walking the skyways instead of suburban streets — and loving every minute of it.

Racking up steps on their Fitbits, they travel from their 12th-floor condo in the Ivy Residences on 11th Street across downtown Minneapolis to the Mississippi River — and every place in between. A favorite destination is shopping and restaurants in the North Loop. “After a meal we walk it off on the way back,” said Ralph.

Out of the skyways, they hit the streets to reach Art-A-Whirl in the Northeast neighborhood or Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown. They’re also close to Lunds & Byerlys, Macy’s and Target.

The Savages compare the skyway and street “walkability” to living in Europe or New York.

“We discovered that Minneapolis has its own little neighborhoods with their own flavor like New York,” said Ralph, who grew up in Long Island.

Walkability — and zero yard work — were among the reasons the empty nesters put money down to reserve two condo units in the Ivy Residences in 2004, before the building broke ground.

For the previous 25 years, the couple had been raising their three children — now adults — in a large house in Edina. Friends who lived in a Mississippi River loft encouraged them to take the leap to urban condo living. The Savages no longer felt tied to schools and other commitments in Edina. “It was time for a new adventure,” said Ralph.

“Downtown was starting to change,” added Jan. “Exciting things were happening, like the light rail.”

The couple chose the proposed Ivy Residences and Hotel, an elegant glass-and-stone luxury condo-hotel near the Minneapolis Convention Center. The historic ziggurat-style Ivy Tower, built in 1930 as the Second Church of Christ, Scientist, was saved from the wrecking ball and was to be a part of the hotel.

The Savages could live on the 12th floor, which appealed to Jan. “I wanted to be able to walk down stairs if I had to,” she said. Plus they had the opportunity to combine and custom-design two corner units to create one residence.

Enter Andrew Flesher

The Savages listed their Edina house for sale and enlisted Andrew Flesher, then of Gunkelmans Interior Design, to create a floor plan for the 3,700-square-foot condo. He could play off the floor-to-ceiling glass on three sides, delivering panoramic views of downtown skyscrapers. “The lights of the city are like a piece of art,” said Flesher, who today owns Andrew Flesher Interiors in Minneapolis and New York.

Flesher devised spaces that balanced intimate sitting areas and warm materials, such as a herringbone walnut floor, with modern clean lines, gallery-white walls and expanses of glass. For added texture, the Savages chose stone mosaic tile to cover a curved wall and the surround on the two-sided mod linear gas fireplace. “The curved stone feels very Minnesotan,” said Ralph.

Flesher also carved out niches to hold some of the couple’s traditional heirloom furniture. “It marries the traditional home they moved from with contemporary downtown condo living,” he said.

In the kitchen, dark wood cabinets are a contrast to light marble countertops and upscale commercial-grade appliances, such as a Subzero refrigerator and Wolf range. Flesher custom-designed the globe pendant light fixture above the island. The expansive condo also has a TV/media room, den, guest quarters and a climate-controlled 500-bottle wine room. An office with built-in bookcases also doubles as a playroom for Jan and Ralph’s grandkids. There are two balconies — one for grilling and the other for watching storms approaching from the west.

Now the couple have three grandsons who are “full of energy,” said Jan.

“We’d like to spend more time with our grandsons where it’s warm,” said Ralph, who is cutting back on his hours running his electronics products companies. “It’s more attractive to be by the ocean than visiting us in a condo downtown.”

“We’re ready for more adventures,” said Jan. 

Michael Seebinger of Downtown Resource Group has the listing. Call 612-807-4958, e-mail Mike@DrgMpls.com or go to http://bit.ly/1YfssdA