Minneapolis developer Stuart Ackerberg told the Calhoun Area Residents Action Group that local tech firm Code42 has signed a letter of intent to anchor MoZaic East, an office-retail complex his firm is developing behind the Lagoon Theatre. The project's price tag is between $40 million and $50 million.
"For us, what continues to be the missing link to making Uptown as healthy and vibrant as it could be is to have more daytime population," Ackerberg told the neighborhood group this week. "High-paying jobs, younger, creative, vibrant people that again should just help the community."
However, the two parties have not signed a lease so far.
Currently based in northeast Minneapolis, fast-growing Code42 is a company on the move, making backup and file-synchronizing software.
Its employee base has grown 2,000 percent since 2009, expanding from fewer than 20 employees to more than 400 currently with $40 million in annual revenue.
And just last week, the firm said it hired Jason Bristow, the No. 2 financial executive at tech giant Amazon as its chief financial officer, perhaps a sign that the firm may be positioning itself to go public.
However, few details of Code42's expansion plans in Uptown have been made public, and the firm declined to comment Wednesday.
The Ackerberg Group hopes to build a second phase called MoZaic East on what is now a surface parking lot between Hennepin and Fremont avenues. The expansion will add 185,000 square feet to the complex, including 170,000 square feet of office space, 15,000 square feet of restaurant/retail space and 20,000 square feet of underground parking, according to city documents.
As of December, the first phase of the MoZaic mixed-use complex was 91 percent leased, with tenants including the digital marketing firm JohnRyan and the advertising firm Mono. Two restaurants, Bar Louie and Origami Sushi, are part of the development, which also has a large public plaza with a connection to the popular Midtown Greenway bike trail.
Calhoun Square is in the mix
Officials from the Ackerberg Group declined to comment Wednesday.
An entity associated with the firm recently bought Calhoun Square, the indoor mall in the heart of Uptown, from a New York investment concern for $69.5 million.
At the neighborhood meeting, Ackerberg said work on the shopping center — not far from the MoZaic complex — will begin within the next month or so to improve common areas. The mall is currently 88 percent leased, with major tenants H&M, Kitchen Window and Republic, among others.
Comfortable seating areas, charting stations and other amenities will likely factor into the reconfiguration. "Changing the energy and playing with the common areas to come up with something that just feels more urban and more consistent with this Uptown area," Ackerbeg said.
The deal also included an empty block adjacent to Calhoun Square, which could become more offices or a hotel, Ackerberg said.
One of the meeting's attendees, Maura Lynch, urged Ackerberg to install more communal spaces at Calhoun Square and move away from trying to be a suburban mall.
"I think previous iterations of Calhoun Square have attempted to be ... a draw for suburban spenders," Lynch said. "While we value their money as being green, I really hope that the focus will really be on serving our community. And if it happens to draw money from elsewhere, great."
Others suggested that the post office be returned to the building, as well as adding more small and local businesses.