TRAVERSE BUSINESS CENTER

NE. corner, Interstates 35W and 694, Arden Hills

Type: Office Size: Up to 495,000 square feet Lot size: 26.5 acres Developer: The Chesapeake Companies

Chesapeake Companies says it's pulling the trigger on its long-planned Traverse Business Center, with plans for nearly a half-million square feet of new offices at a highly visible 26.5-acre site in Arden Hills. The property is one of the last remaining large undeveloped spaces along the Interstate 694/494 loop.

Hopkins-based Chesapeake confirmed that marketing efforts to line up tenants have begun and that the site is ready for the first of a planned three phases for the new business center, to be in the northeast quadrant of the I-694/I-35W interchange along the shores of Round Lake.

The business park has been approved to accommodate as much as 495,000 square feet of office space, with the first phase calling for a 203,000-square-foot, six-story office building to begin construction next year. Phase II would consist of a 261,000-square-foot, eight-story building, with a 30,000-square-foot third phase to follow.

The city of Arden Hills has approved Chesapeake's planned unit development, which the firm says provides enough flexibility to accommodate varying tenant requirements for such items as building size, use and site layout.

Chesapeake has spent the past six years assembling the site, and in May obtained the last piece, a small railroad spur. The key piece of the puzzle, however, was obtaining the former ATS Steel building. Chesapeake was able to accomplish that last year after much negotiation. Since then, it has demolished the building and has mounted an effort to clean up the site, according to Jon McClure, a principal with Chesapeake.

"It's been an arduous process to get all the pieces together," McClure said. "We're really making our big push now to get a nice-sized anchor user. The site really lends itself well to a corporate campus environment, but we can go multitenant as well. We have a lot of flexibility in our [planned unit development]. What that means is, we can literally adjust the sizes and configurations of the buildings."

McClure says there's even some flexibility with uses. For instance, under the development plan, lab space can be allowed, which might attract a medical tenant to an area that's only a few blocks from Medtronic's new division headquarters at Hwy. 10 and Interstate 35W.

DON JACOBSON