After several years and several different ideas, developers are moving forward with a new plan for the final parcel in the massive redevelopment project near U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
Twin Cities-based Ryan Cos said Monday it is partnering with a Washington-based developer to build a 24-story, 342-unit apartment tower on a narrow strip of land across from the Vikings stadium in the East Town district.
"Five years after completing the initial phase of the Downtown East redevelopment project, we're excited to confirm that the final phase will move forward, said Tony Barranco, North region president for Ryan, in a statement. "In partnership with Weidner Homes, we look forward to breaking ground on our long planned multifamily tower early next year."
The narrow site is along 4th Street S. between Park and Chicago avenues and faces the U.S. Bank Station light rail station. It shares a block with the Mills Fleet Farm parking garage that's owned by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Association (MSFA).
The MSFA, owner and operator of U.S. Bank Stadium, sold that parcel earlier this month to apartment developer Weidner Homes for almost $5.27 million, according to a filing with the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
Plans for the project have been filed with the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association and the city's Planning Commission and have obtained all city approvals, Ryan said.
This isn't the first plan for the site, which has been vacant for several years. Seven years ago, Ryan planned to build a 27-story tower with about 200 apartments and a 150-room Radisson Red hotel. That project never happened and the hotel ended up being built on a nearby site.
There then was a plan for an office tower. Ryan was unable to secure an anchor tenant, so the developer put forward a new plan in 2018 for a 24-story, 345-unit apartment tower, which closely resembles the latest iteration revealed Monday.
The project will be the final piece of the five-block East Town redevelopment project in the Downtown East neighborhood, which includes the Mill District and its Guthrie Theater, Gold Medal Park and Stone Arch Bridge.
Ryan and Weidner have partnered on projects before. The pair developed or co-developed several apartment buildings in the Twin Cities metro. In 2017, Weidner and Ryan redeveloped the Sons of Norway site together in the Uptown neighborhood in Minneapolis.
Weidner, which has a regional office in Minnetonka, also is planning to develop market-rate rentals in Ryan's Highland Bridge project, which is on the site of the former Ford Plant in St. Paul.
News of the project comes just weeks after voters in Minneapolis cleared the way for the city to implement rent control. While there isn't a policy in place yet, the city is still crafting ordinances that may or may not have to go before voters for another vote.
Developers have argued that new construction should be exempted from measures that would include caps on rent increases. Officials at Ryan Cos were unable to discuss how and if the vote played into timing of the project.
The rental market in downtown Minneapolis has softened since 2018 as several large new apartment towers opened. The pandemic added to a rising vacancy rate. In the third quarter of 2021, the average vacancy rate was 6.7%. That's down slightly from the previous year but still above 5% — a rate that's considered evenly balanced between supply and demand, according to a rent survey by Marquette Advisors.
Star Tribune staff reporter Patrick Kennedy contributed to this report.