5 Blocks to Watch in Downtown Minneapolis

July 16, 2017  |  BY Jim Vos

downtown Minneapolis

Downtown Minneapolis is an exciting place to live, work, shop and play these days. I’ve been working downtown since the 90’s and we’re seeing new development in areas that have long gone untouched, along with new trends in how companies use their existing spaces.

Leaders are rethinking how they use office space. While businesses used to build their brands with fancy offices on top floors, today’s clients aren’t necessarily looking for the same kind of glitz, and real estate priorities have shifted. Many employers are moving to more modest offices that prioritize employee experience and retention, with a renewed focus on amenities like access to fitness centers, restaurants and collaborative meeting space.

As we watch what’s going on downtown, I’m keeping an eye on five blocks where bellwether changes, projects and developments will lead the way to the future of downtown.

Dayton’s block, Seventh Street and Nicollet Avenue

What’s going on: The signature former Dayton’s building is being transformed. The current plan calls for retail space on the ground floor and skyway level, with office space above. The space has the potential to provide a unique retail experience and serve as a signature destination for visitors and locals alike. There’s the possibility of a creative new food hall that would feature local restaurants and purveyors. The property will likely feature a mix of local retailers and some national high-end clothing stores that have been missing from downtown. The building will need a large tenant to use the expansive office space.

Why it’s interesting: As one of the area’s best-known buildings that’s served for decades as a signature retail space, the Dayton’s block is poised to continue its legacy as the psychological center of downtown. More than 40,000 people live downtown but don’t have many fun places to shop, so new retail space will expand their opportunities. Plus, the food hall would provide a higher-energy option than individual restaurant spaces.

Thrivent parking lot block: 600 block of Portland Ave. S.

What’s going on: Thrivent purchased the last of three parcels on this property earlier this spring, and the company is planning on expanding its office space for its growing employee base. With this expansion and continued development around the U.S. Bank Stadium, the area will have plenty to offer.

Why it’s interesting: If anyone was wondering whether East Town is one-and-done when it came to large development, Thrivent’s move shows there’s still plenty of room for growth in the area. It also confirms a major employer’s extended commitment to downtown.

City parking ramp/office block: 500 block of S. Fifth St.

What’s going on: The city is proposing to take the parking ramp down and build all-new offices for city staff. The parking ramp has about 1,300 reasonably priced stalls, and has been well-used for years.

Why it’s interesting: This sends a message to city workers that they matter and deserve a great work space. And by eliminating an entire parking ramp downtown, the city is also making a statement that public transportation and autonomous vehicles will play a larger role in how people get around downtown.

Kraus-Anderson block: Portland Avenue and S. Ninth St.

What’s going on: After its proposal for a new office building was turned down, Kraus-Anderson is now building a hotel, an innovation center designed for co-working, 150 apartments, offices and underground parking into the space.

Why it’s interesting: Mixing market-rate housing with hotel space is unusual, and stretches the boundaries of downtown a little bit past the Skyway system. It may also provide additional hotel space for the Convention Center.

West Elm hotel block: 100 block of N. First St.

What’s going on: West Elm is developing several boutique hotels around the country, one of which is in Minneapolis. There’s been talk that a West Elm furniture store may be included in this block, which is ripe for new development. Condos and office space are expected to round out the project.

Why it’s interesting: This mixed-use project will perk up the Warehouse/North Loop area, which has seen a lot of redevelopment activity but no new construction. This in-fill project will result in a cool, trendy hotel; a furniture store would be the icing on the cake for everyone living downtown.