The recent announcement by Regis Corp. that it would be moving its headquarters from Edina illustrates the role of real estate in refreshing a company.  

Regis has long been an operator of hair salons, but more recently it’s reshaped its business to focus more on franchising salon concepts rather than operating its own stores. This turns the job of the headquarters into serving franchisees as well as being the home office for the company.

After looking at options all over the Twin Cities, the company has signed a lease to move to Minneapolis, west of downtown along Interstate 394 in a building built for the Prudential Insurance Co. of America in the early 1950s.

“We were looking at this as an opportunity to reset our culture and evolve our company,” said Eric Bakken, the Regis president of franchise operations. “And we looked at it as an opportunity to help attract and retain top talent.”

Bakken allowed that the existing headquarters was “a little bit tired.” As described in the company’s annual filing, Regis has a 139,000 square-foot campus of two buildings owned by the company in Edina, adjacent to Hwy 100. One is a low-rise building that’s been largely vacated and the other, a nine-story tower, is a fine headquarters building for a different era.

The tower had been built in 1981, although Regis didn’t buy it until the early 1990s. It’s got a bit more than 10,000 square feet of space on each floor with private offices built along the windows.

What’s much preferred now is a completely different kind of workspace, all open on much larger floors where workers even in different departments could look up and see their colleagues on the other side of the room. They also might want to grab laptop computers and head to a rooftop deck or outdoor patio to continue a discussion.

Bakken, Chief Finance Officer Andrew Lacko and Mark Norman, its head of real estate, described in an interview having looked for a new facility for most of a year, advised by Jim Vos and Steve Strom at the firm of Cresa Minneapolis. They had already concluded that renovating the existing headquarters to the kind of new workspace they envisioned would have meant moving out for the duration of a complete redo.

Meanwhile, Target Corp. had elected to leave its building west of downtown Minneapolis along interstate 394 that had been offices of its consumer finance operations. Target bought the Prudential building in 1994, but unlike the current Regis headquarters, this is an older building that had plenty of potential to be cool space.

Built in the early 1950s, it sits on a green and wooded site that overlooks Brownie Lake at the northwest end of Minneapolis’s famous chain of Lakes. The popular Cedar Lake Trail for bikes runs nearby and Theodore Wirth Regional Park is a quick walk over a bridge.

Instead of staff on nine floors, the new Regis headquarters will be on just the top four floors, with many fewer walls and private offices than the existing headquarters has. The more efficient layout allows the whole staff to move into a space of about 64,000 square feet.

The elevators on each floor open into a lobby with views of downtown Minneapolis skyline line to the east and on a clear day the St. Paul skyline is in sight. And developers at the Opus Development Co. were putting in a rooftop clubhouse, new cafeteria with an outdoor patio, gym, bike lockers and other nice things to have for workers in the building.

And they were not just thinking about Regis workers. As Bakken put it, “we continue to recruit in excellent franchisee partners, and we believe this building will be more conducive to that process.”

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