The Dayton's Project said Tuesday that accounting giant Ernst & Young LLP will become the first major office tenant of the newly renovated store-turned-office complex on Minneapolis' Nicollet Mall.

Starting this fall, Ernst & Young will move 800 accountants and other employees into 30,536 square feet of space on the fifth floor of the 1.2 million-square-foot Dayton's Project building.

Mike O'Leary, the managing partner for Ernst & Young's Minneapolis office, said the decision to move into the Dayton's building from the nearby U.S. Bank Plaza was purposeful.

"We've chosen to stay in downtown Minneapolis as part of our ongoing commitment to the community and to the market as we continue to grow and expand in Minnesota," he said. "Our firm is incredibly excited to make our new Minneapolis home in the Dayton's Project. It's an iconic building that elicits fond and nostalgic memories for so many Minnesotans and has historic significance to the entire community and our firm."

Brian Whiting, president of the Telos Group LLC, which helped lead the office redevelopment, said in a statement, "This is exactly the type of tenant we had in mind for this project. Firms like EY US lead Minneapolis in business innovations. They saw the advantages of having the best tenant amenities in Minnesota to attract and retain a top-tier workforce."

Efforts to fill the Dayton's Project come at a precarious time for office building owners and management companies. Their buildings emptied as a pandemic forced a mass conversion to remote working, and a year later just 10 to 15% of downtown Minneapolis workers are back in their offices.

Earlier this month, Target Corp. rocked downtown boosters when it said it's giving up one-third of its downtown office space as it changes how and where work gets done, leaving nearly 1 million square foot of space in City Center looking for new tenants.

The Dayton's Project building was most recently a Macy's department store and is best remembered as the beloved flagship Dayton's Department Store. Macy's closed the location in March 2017. Following a $214 million renovation, the building reopened as Dayton's Project in September 2020.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725