City to Review Four New Proposals for Lot Development Near the Guthrie

City to Review Four New Proposals for Lot Development Near the Guthrie

Technology and Greenery Highlight Proposals for City Lot DevelopmentW.A. Mortenson won a previous round of bidding with a proposal for a hotel at 800 Washington Avenue S. in Minneapolis MN. However, those plans were abandoned when the company encountered financing difficulties. Now Minneapolis has an opportunity to consider a different type of development on a half-acre-plus rectangular lot sandwiched between the Riverfront Parking Ramp and Washington Ave. In April, the city called for new RFPs on the city-owned tract, and four developers responded.

The site is near the Guthrie Theater, and the city stipulated that any new construction be at least five stories to act as a visual buffer from the existing parking garage. During the last round of proposals, Mortenson had submitted an ambitious plan for a 188-room hotel on the site, before the Golden Valley-based company had to back out. The 2015 runner-up is back in this round of bidding.

The city had hopes for a hotel on the site. Three proposals were submitted in 2015 for facilities ranging in size from 188 down to 140 rooms.

No Hotels This Time

While each of the four proposals in this round has unique features, one is for apartments, two of them are primarily office space and the fourth features condos and varied retail uses. Here is a brief overview:

Sherman Associates

Known for its ability to integrate apartment and commercial uses in developments that become attractive assets to their neighborhoods, Sherman's proposal is for a 10-story building that will include 112 apartments as well as a two-story bowling alley-bocce-entertainment complex known as Pinstripes, and office space for the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). Both have reportedly signed letters of intent, and were also a part of the company's runner-up hotel bid in the previous round of development submittals.

Cost of the completed project is estimated at $54 million.

Oppidan Investment Co.

Oppidan's pitch for an office building in the area came as a bit of a surprise, although the Excelsior-based company is not alone in thinking that the location might attract a tenant with a preference for being close to downtown, but a bit removed from the traffic and congestion of the downtown core. That was the rationale for targeting a single company for a build-to-suit structure of six to eight stories, according to Drew Johnson, Oppidan vice president of development.

Target cost is from $40 to $60 million. Architect is Edina-based bdh + young; Jones Lang LaSalle has been tapped to market the space to potential users.

45 North Group

A young St. Louis Park company also envisions office space. The firm's proposal for a five-story building includes ground-floor retail, as well. What makes the building unique is a technologically-minded approach, with a rooftop solar array that is designed to generate and supply enough power to assure that the 72,000 square-foot building would be a "net zero" energy consumer.

The development company focuses its design efforts on sustainable practices, calling itself a renewable development company. 45 North Group was founded in 2017 by four partners with a wealth of local development experience.

No cost estimate was given.


The Los Angeles-based company presented plans for an architecturally interesting nine-story building incorporating several pocket parks in its design, with greenery highlighting the open-panel facade and the rooftop. It would feature 76 condominium units, with a 10 percent set aside for affordable housing.

The structure would also incorporate space for the AAN, according to a company spokesman, with a potential ground-floor restaurant. The building's gardens could possibly supply some fresh produce for the restaurant, noted Brian Dusek, a concept currently in vogue in Europe and gaining favor in American coastal cities. A rendering shows a tree-lined streetscape along Washington Ave. as well.

No matter which direction the city moves, if development proceeds this time the wish for visual screening on the parking garage will become a reality, and another empty city lot will see innovative new use. A decision is expected by August.

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