Thor CEO Ravi Norman


Thor Cos. and partners will inaugurate a new headquarters and Regional Acceleration Center (RAC) at Penn and Plymouth avenues N. on Friday afternoon.

Hennepin County, which is moving some offices into the complex, is the single-largest investor.

"We want to play a role, through the building and our company, in helping speed the process of economic and community revitalization on the North Side," said Thor CEO Ravi Norman. "This is a great community — with great neighborhoods and great opportunities for businesses."

The $36 million-plus, 92,000-square-foot headquarters and small-business center is part of a $100 million public-private redevelopment of three corners of the Penn-Plymouth intersection, including Hennepin County's expanding NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center and a parking ramp.

The RAC also will provide a new home MEDA, the nonprofit minority business counselor and financier, and several small businesses, including a restaurant. The fully leased complex and related construction is the largest North Side development in 50 years, the partners said.

Grand-opening festivities are scheduled to include neighbors and stakeholders such as Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, Mayor Jacob Frey, Thor Chairman Richard Copeland, MEDA CEO Gary Cunningham and Target CEO Brian Cornell.

Copeland, 63, founded Thor as a laborer in 1980 "with a shovel and a truck." He and Norman, a former banker, have grown the developer-contractor to be Minnesota's largest minority-owned company. It has revenue of $368 million and 250-plus employees.

Thor is moving 50-plus central-office employees into the RAC from its warehouse-building headquarters in Fridley.

Hennepin County invested about $22 million for a third of the RAC space, for offices for expanding NorthPoint Health, its human services and community corrections agencies, and 420 spaces in the adjacent 620-stall parking ramp.

Thor is investing $12 million in the new building, including a mortgage, Norman said.

U.S. Bank is investing about $3 million through the purchase of federal tax credits used to subsidize development in economically distressed areas.

Target is investing about $2 million in a seven-year lease for the fourth floor of the RAC. It has leased portions of its space back to Thor and MEDA and will host a co-working space for its employees and community organizations.

Norman said the developments at Plymouth and Penn, including a new Estes Funeral Home, will help bolster the near North Side. The Urban League's headquarters is on the fourth corner of the Penn-Plymouth intersection.

North Minneapolis has enjoyed pockets of small-business resurgence along W. Broadway, Lowry Avenue and elsewhere over the past several years. Home values and residential construction have accelerated.

However, neighborhood commerce often is trumped by news of gun and drug violence in a community that also struggles with relatively low household incomes and high unemployment.



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