Thrivent Financial has plans to sell its last remaining surface parking lot near its headquarters in downtown Minneapolis to a developer who wants to build an apartment complex and diner.

The potential project would be the last piece in a massive, multi-block development of a part of downtown that has rapidly been transformed from parking lots to high-rises.

Thrivent has entered into a purchase agreement with local restaurateur John McCarty to sell its Smith parking lot on the corner of 5th Avenue and 7th Street next to the Sexton Lofts. McCarty plans to build a six-story, 190-unit apartment building. The apartments would mostly be micro units around 500 square feet in size, McCarty said.

McCarty, who also owns the New Uptown Diner in south Minneapolis, said he plans to include a 3,000- to 4,000-square-foot diner that would serve breakfast and lunch on the first floor. The restaurant would be a welcomed addition to a developing East Town district that is still an eatery desert, McCarty said. There are plans to include underground parking as well.

"I think East Town is very exciting," McCarty said. "It's an amazing, brand-new neighborhood."

McCarty is just beginning the entitlement process with the city with the hope that construction would start next spring and take a little more than a year to finish, he said.

The project would be built by Weis Builders and designed by DJR Architecture, which is busy with several developments throughout the Twin Cities including in Edina.

Thrivent leaders announced the plans at the Wednesday afternoon groundbreaking for its new headquarters, which will be built near its current offices.

"We are really excited to have it happen right here," said Thrivent Chief Executive Brad Hewitt.

Thrivent will soon start building a new eight-story corporate center at 6th Street and 5th Avenue on the northern portion of the lot. The structure will feature an internal chapel and art gallery as well as a coffee shop and pocket park.

On the other half of the block, developer Sherman Associates plans to construct a 12-story, 152-unit apartment building and a 10-story, 133-room hotel.

Thrivent's current 17-story headquarters, on 6th Street and 4th Avenue near the Hennepin County Government Center, is being sold to Hennepin County for future offices. Thrivent is renting the building until its new space is ready in 2020. Also on that block directly behind Thrivent, work has begun on a parking garage surrounded by about 100 residential units.

"I think we are in this really great position," said Kirsten Spreck, vice president of real estate development for Thrivent. "We are expanding the core of downtown another block East."

Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495 Twitter: @nicolenorfleet