Thrivent Financial, looking to capitalize on the redevelopment surge on the east side of downtown Minneapolis, hired a real estate firm to assess alternative uses for two parking lots it owns near its headquarters.
Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq will spend the next four to six months conducting a land-use study for the sites. The main site — a parking lot encompassing the entire block across from the Armory on 6th Street — is just a block away from the urban park that will be built next year adjacent to the new Vikings stadium.
The smaller parking lot is next door on the southeast corner of 7th Street and 5th Avenue S.
Heightened market interest in Minneapolis’ Downtown East district made the timing right for the financial services company.
“Thrivent recognizes that this land is a key parcel in a rapidly developing area and has already been approached regarding our future use of these lots,” Brett Weinberg, Thrivent’s communications director, said in a statement.
Thrivent hired Cushman to explore site options after hearing from interested parties, including businesses, developers, real estate investors and entities already entrenched on the east side of downtown with “ancillary space needs,” according to Mark Houge, executive director of Real Estate Advisory at Cushman.
“We have no preconceived notion of what will go in there,” Houge said. “It seems that it could be some kind of mixed use.”
But Cushman’s team is not going to limit itself as it digs around.
“We will be reaching out nationally and internationally to gauge interest,” Houge said. “It’s a large enough parcel to garner attention from a wide variety of corporations.”
If Thrivent decides to sell the property, Weinberg said it will be selective, balancing the interests of its employees and adding to the revitalization of the east side of downtown.
The area is zoned for high-density development and has no height restrictions. Houge said that any change to its use would have to offer a significant citywide benefit.
“The city is also very interested in collaborating with us to help vet the options,” Houge said.
Downtown Minneapolis has seen a surge in new residential or mixed-use properties, but less so in office space growth.
“Obviously, its location and the fact that it’s a whole block would certainly make it desirable,” said Jim Nelson, principal at Eberhardt Advisory, who advises clients looking for commercial real estate in the Twin Cities. “But if it were to be anything other than a hotel or housing, like office space, it would need a lot of commitment from a user before anyone would undertake to do anything that was purely speculative.”