The former Minneapolis Public Schools headquarters opened this week as the Highlight Center, a year after being bought by Hillcrest Development of Minneapolis.
The brick-and-timber structure at 807 Broadway has a new green roof garden, a stormwater detention and filtration system under the parking lot, energy-efficient windows, a composting site and reclaimed floors.
It has 150,000 square feet of rentable space and will house mostly tech and creative firms. About 60 percent is leased already, with 25 percent pending. Sport Ngin, a developer of software for sports leagues, is the largest occupant, with 32,000 square feet of sun-drenched space.
Built around 1914 as a light-bulb factory, the site had considerable environmental problems.
“Contamination and redevelopment seem to go hand-in-hand,” said Hillcrest’s managing partner Scott Tankenoff. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development kicked in nearly $200,000 for demolition costs and stormwater management and the Metropolitan Council awarded more than $575,000 for hazardous material abatement.
Also on the 5.8-acre site is the soon-to-open Able Seedhouse and Brewery. Its founder, Casey Holley, was onsite Tuesday in the 10,000-square-foot building across the parking lot from the office complex. Large glass-and-steel garage doors were rolled up as crews worked on the HVAC system in Able’s warehouse-like space.
Holley and his three business partners have a vision for incorporating locally sourced small grains into their beer, which will be brewed by Bobby Blasey, formerly of Mankato Brewery. For three years they’ve cultivated relationships with three Minnesota farmers and one in Wisconsin who will sell wheat, barley and rye to Able.
“Hops are the glamour in beer right now, but the small grains are the heart and soul of beer. And we are great at growing those here in Minnesota,” said Holley, who hopes the brewery will be ready to open by late October.