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Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the size and location of the building’s art gallery because of errors in the press materials. The 1,100-square-foot gallery is on the fourth floor.
A snowy winter and spring did no favors for the construction workers, but Thor Cos.’ $36 million headquarters project in north Minneapolis is nearly complete and on time after 17 months of construction.
How bad was the weather? To illustrate his point, Thor Superintendent Brian Warren whipped out his mobile phone during a project tour on Thursday and scrolled through pictures that showed construction workers shoveling knee-deep snow off the building’s roof. The photos were taken in mid-April.
Even so, the hardy workers “powered through” the wintry weather and kept the project’s schedule largely intact, he said.
“We had 24 men and women up on the roof pushing snow off it,” Warren said during the tour. “There were a lot of challenges. Did it set you back a day or two? Yeah. But we get it done. We don’t stop. We find other ways to get ahead.”
Thor representatives said Thursday that the building is fully leased. Thor, which has been based in Fridley, plans to occupy the 92,000-square-foot building in mid-July. On Wednesday, the first shipments of furniture were moved by crane into the construction and development company’s future home. Thor, Minnesota’s largest minority-owned business, will occupy about 17,000 square feet of space on the third floor.
Other office tenants include Minneapolis-based Target Corp. (3,100 square feet of shared office, “collaboration” and “innovation center” space) and the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (13,500 square feet).
On the fourth floor, Hennepin County, NorthPoint Health & Wellness, Hennepin County Health & Human Services and the Hennepin County corrections department will take up 36,500 square feet of space.
First-floor retail space will house financial services company Build Wealth MN (3,800 square feet), a fitness center business called M E & I (3,500 square feet), and Sammie’s Avenue Eatery (1,000 square feet).
A 625-stall parking structure will serve the development and an expanded NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center.
Tenant improvements are moving forward at different schedules, said Erin Hayden, Thor’s marketing coordinator. Hennepin County and NorthPoint will begin buildout of their fifth-floor space in mid-July.
In all, the building will bring about 300 new workers to the North Side, which has historically struggled to attract investment. Project backers say the new concrete structure will provide critical mass needed for new development.
The project has already been a springboard for an additional $100 million worth of development in the immediate area, including the $67 million, 74,000-square-foot expansion of the Northpoint Health and Wellness Center and the new Estes Funeral Chapel.
Elsewhere in north Minneapolis, Minneapolis-based Sherman Associates is planning a $20.3 million, 69-unit affordable apartment project on 2.85 acres in the 1700, 1800 and 1900 blocks of Broadway Avenue West. The Sherman project, called West Broadway Curve, is about 1.5 miles northwest of the Thor site, which is at the southeast quadrant of Penn and Plymouth avenues.
Separately, a development group led by former National Basketball Association players Kevin Garnett and Devean George plans to build the 64-unit Penn Avenue Union mixed-use apartment project on three city-owned lots at 2200 Golden Valley Road and 1911 and 1915 Penn Ave. N. The project site also includes three other lots owned by a company that shares an address with George’s Wayzata-based George North Group. Those lots are just west of the city property.
George completed in 2015 the 47-unit Commons at Penn, kitty-corner across Golden Valley Road from the new project site.
During a project tour in January, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey hailed the Thor project as evidence that there is a market for new development in north Minneapolis.
“When we talk about economic progress, it’s not about people coming in from the outside and investing,” Frey said at the time. “We are talking about people from the community doing the work, making the progress, and then seeing and reaping the benefits themselves so we are building the generational wealth that we are always talking about.”
During Thursday’s tour, Thor representatives walked visitors through a building that looks almost like a finished product from the outside. But work continues at a steady pace on the inside. Tour guides had to raise their voices at times to be heard above the steady din of construction noise.
About 120 workers were on the job at the peak of construction, said Mike Pokorney, Thor’s project manager on the job. As of Thursday, about 75 to 90 craft workers were still working on the project.
Thor is handling construction in-house and is overseeing design of its interior space. Minneapolis-based LSE Architects is heading up design of the base building.
Highlights includes an 8,400-square-foot outdoor deck on the third floor, spacious conference rooms with views of the downtown Minneapolis skyline, and an 1,100-square-foot, glass-encased art gallery and “entrepreneurial center” on the fourth floor.
Named after Thor founder Richard Copeland, the gallery will be available for community events and gatherings.
From a sustainability standpoint, the building features LED lighting fixtures, a chilled-beam heating and cooling system, and locally sourced concrete, Pokorney said. The project also earns sustainability points for reclaiming a once-polluted site.
Financing was a challenge because lenders viewed the project as a high-risk venture given its location in an underserved area, the company said. Ultimately, Thor cobbled together financing that included loans and New Market Tax Credits.
Lenders included Anchor Bank, the St. Paul-based Local Initiatives Support Corp., and the U.S. Bank Community Development Corp.