"Shopping" for Business (and Fun) at St. Paul's Former Downtown Macy's

Posted by Kris Lindahl on Thursday, February 22nd, 2018 at 9:27am.

St. Paul's Former Downtown Macy'sThe former Macy's in St. Paul is fast becoming a "happening place," and is due to become a popular destination for skating and hockey fans when the new Treasure Island Rink is finally open for business. It should be real soon and, according to Minnesota Wild's Chief Financial Officer Jeff Pellegrom, the team is more than ready to get on the ice of their new rooftop practice center.

The rooftop ice rink is designed to draw upwards of 600,000 visitors during the year. The rink will seat 1,200 people and is expected to be a popular place for Hamline University's hockey teams and sports leagues. Lower floors of the building will include office space, shopping, limited retail and parking. It is convenient to downtown public transportation, including the Green Line light rail station located only a block away. Clearly, hockey isn't the only attraction at the refurbished department store.

The New Look of Old Retail

It has taken awhile to revitalize this downtown department store, but Treasure Island Center, as it has now been dubbed, may indeed be a treasure in the crown of Minnesota's capital city and Ramsey County. Treasure Island Resort and Casino bought naming and sponsorship rights for the project that had been known before as Wabasha Center. At the time of the announcement in early 2017, there was no indication that the tribe has any plans to operate a casino or entertainment venue in the building, although they will occupy third-floor office space.

The city's Port Authority bought the property for $3 million in 2014, then joined forces with Minneapolis-based Hempel Cos., which is the major partner, and subsequently invested another $5.5 million. Go Wild LLC is the joint venture between the two entities, with RJM Construction serving as general contractor for the building's rehab.

Although about 250 employees with the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency already have moved into second-floor offices, most new tenants are yet to arrive. In mid-November, a new two-level Walgreen's opened, with access onto street level at Wabasha Street, but effectively occupying Floors 2 and 3 from the Cedar Street side. The store is also accessible via skyway from its second level.

It's part of the mystique of the building that opened as a Dayton's Department Store in 1963. Like the downtown Minneapolis Macy's that began its life as the original downtown Dayton's, it is expected to shine once again in its new role as a mixed-use urban center, all of which lends to the Twin Cities' growing popularity in the commercial real estate market.

Redevelopment Plans

The 540,000 square-foot building is situated between Wabasha Street and Cedar, with a 16-foot slope from one to the other. In addition to an existing parking ramp that was part of the retail store, some of the store's former jewelry and cosmetic display area has been converted into team and contract parking spaces. Hempel spokesman Randy McKay describes some unique challenges, noting, “There's not that many parking areas with terrazzo floors, I can tell you that.”

Scheduled to open in the spring of 2018 are two eateries and a brewery. Move-ins by additional tenants are expected to follow. The St. Paul Police Department will occupy 11,400 square feet as office and meeting space. Below grade, Level 0 is still under construction, and will contain the Wild's new state-of-the-art workout and physical therapy center, including a 40-foot dash track and a "downtime" lounge with both large-screen television and fireplace.

Other known tenants include TRIA Orthopedic Clinic, a sports medicine, surgical and rehabilitation center on the Lobby level. The practice is also the official medical team for the Wild. Only about 31,000 square feet are still available to lease, according to information recently released by Treasure Island Center.

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