A drab parking lot in downtown Minneapolis has been thrust under the runway spotlight.
Firms bidding to develop the old Nicollet Hotel block are working through the holiday season to produce new renderings that depict their ideas for transforming it. They hope to influence public opinion for an ambitious makeover of a site now owned by the city of Minneapolis.
The block, named after the Nicollet Hotel that stood there until 1991, is situated between 3rd Street, Washington Avenue N., Hennepin Avenue S. and Nicollet Mall. When city officials closed the bidding period for the site earlier this month, four private developers released their plans, creating a windfall of responses from the community.
“Most developments you hear about involve a developer who already owns the property. So once the original news comes out, they just get busy,” said Herb Tousley, head of the real estate programs at the University of St. Thomas. “But when there’s a selection process involved, you tend to hear more about it in advance because people are trying to position themselves to get picked.”
Bloomington-based United Properties on Monday released two new images of the 36-story, mixed-use tower it proposes for the block.
Its initial rendering showed a white outline in the general shape of two conjoined buildings, slightly off-center from each other. The new images depict a glassy structure as seen from the street on Hennepin as well as an aerial view providing textures, colors and integration of a proposed streetcar system.
“The architects really wanted to give more emphasis and enhance the streetscape,” said Jessie Timmerman, spokeswoman for United. “It’s not just about the tower. Of course that’s the excitement, but [the new drawings show] how this relates to the average person as they approach it and how that will feel on the ground.”
Golden Valley-based Mortenson on Monday also released new images of its proposal for a 31-story tower. The new depictions focus on street-level activity that the firm believes its design would facilitate.
The lower, glass atrium-like office building as well as public programming are further imagined from a pedestrian’s vantage. But perhaps most unique is the prominence of a floating, ethereal art installment that’s seen in close-up and faraway shots.
Duval Development, based in Minneapolis, seized public attention by proposing an 80-story tower that would be 100 feet taller than the IDS Center, Minnesota’s tallest structure. Duval released another image last week showcasing the reflective nature of the building’s exterior and weaving footpaths among the tower’s public spaces.
Minneapolis-based Doran Development has not released new images since the initial news hit, but did publish three detailed images at the time of its cylindrical, 30-story tower and surrounding public space.
If city leaders are right and they get their way, the site is poised to be transformed into a bustling interchange.
City staff will review the four plans and conduct community outreach. The City Council is expected to select one of the developers by April and sell the property by late summer 2015. Construction would begin in early to mid-2016.
Developers “want to get their vision out in the public because it sounds like it’s going to be a somewhat public process,” Tousley said.