Fifty-five years ago this month, the Sons of Norway dedicated a new international headquarters in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. Now, they're selling it to be torn down.
Ryan Companies and Weidner Apartment Homes will purchase the building and its city block, on Lake Street between Holmes and Humboldt avenues, from the organization of descendants of Norwegian immigrants. They plan to demolish the building and redevelop the site, though plans are still forming.
A Ryan executive attended a neighborhood meeting Monday night to get feedback from neighbors before polishing up their ideas.
"We're going to really pay attention to the context and really listen to the stakeholders," said Tony Barranco, vice president of real estate development for Ryan.
He said he expects there will be more than one new building on the block and a mix of residential, commercial and retail uses. The final shape, massing and composition of the buildings will be informed by the current mix of development along that stretch of Lake Street, Barranco said.
The 2-plus-acre site now includes the three-story Sons of Norway building and several surface parking lots. There are other smaller structures on the block, including a small apartment building along Holmes Avenue.
The site is considered a "marquee" location where Ryan hasn't been active, Barranco said. The company relationship with Weidner, a Seattle-based apartment developer and manager, isn't new. Ryan developed and built the 222 Hennepin Apartments and Whole Foods project in downtown Minneapolis and sold it to Weidner in 2013.
In this case, the companies are partnering on the project with Ryan focusing on design, development and construction. Weidner will be the long-term owner and manager.
Weidner is a relative newcomer to the Twin Cities, but the company has made several significant investments in both existing apartment projects and sites to be developed. The company tends to own and manage its buildings for several years.
Sons of Norway is a financial services and fraternal organization that aims to promote and preserve the heritage and culture of Norway. The 120-plus-year-old organization has more than 50,000 members around the world.
Sons of Norway CEO Eivind Heiberg said the organization's decision to sell was based in part of the opportunity to bolster the financial future of the organization and its members.
"Today's strong market conditions and the associated real estate boom in Uptown have bolstered the value of our primary asset," he said. "We took a thorough, methodical approach over a significant amount of time to come to our decision to market the property. The sale of our property will benefit our members and provide funds to continue to strengthen our financial security for the foreseeable future."
Terms of the deal weren't announced.
Heiberg said the organization received more than 70 inquires about purchasing the property, including 10 to 12 serious proposals. It selected Ryan and Weidner based on their ability to complete the acquisition and execute the project while embracing a modern Scandinavian design aesthetic that will incorporate natural lighting, open areas and green space, Heiberg said.
Sons of Norway will move back into the building when construction is completed and become an anchor tenant in time to celebrate the organization's 125th anniversary in 2020. The new headquarters will also serve as the office of the Honorary Consulate General of Norway in Minneapolis.
"We are thrilled to be staying in Uptown near friends, neighbors and businesses that we appreciate and enjoy, and to continue to maintain a vibrant Nordic presence in the neighborhood," Heiberg said. "Because our neighborhood roots run deep, we're pleased that we'll carry on our traditions and business operations in our historical location."