CenterPoint To Buy Neiman Marcus Space, Move In 2015

Although the deal likely won’t be finalized until 2014, the 100,000-square-foot building on Nicollet Mall is officially off the market, and the energy company hopes the new location will benefit its branding efforts.

The state’s largest natural gas utility, CenterPoint Energy, signed an agreement Tuesday afternoon to purchase the former Neiman Marcus property on Nicollet Mall.
 
Houston-based CenterPoint’s Minnesota headquarters is currently located in LaSalle Plaza, where its 255 employees occupy 67,000 square feet of office space. The Nicollet Mall property, which is currently owned by Bloomington-based commercial real estate firm United Properties, is 100,000 square feet.
 
Although the purchase price has not been disclosed, company spokeswoman Rebecca Virden told Twin Cities Business the deal is expected to officially close next summer and the company plans to move into the space during the first quarter of 2015, shortly after its existing lease expires. Employees won’t transition immediately due to renovations CenterPoint plans to undertake, Virden said.
 
“Our renovations will include installing energy-efficiencies, such as new heating and lighting,” Virden said. “We partner with Xcel Energy on conservation improvement programs to help residences and businesses become more energy efficient and we’ll be using our expertise to do the same with the new building after the purchase.” 
 
The 100,000-square-foot space has been vacant since Neiman Marcus closed its store on January 31.

 
The space will house all of CenterPoint's employees who currently work at the LaSalle location, which includes the company’s marketing, legal, call center, executive, IT, and sales departments. Although the move itself won’t be accompanied by an employee-hiring surge, Virden said CenterPoint is continually looking for new employees, and the larger space will allow greater freedom in taking on new workers.
 
“The purchase of this particular property allows us to remain easily accessible to the largest city in which we live and work,” Joe Vortherms, division regional vice president of CenterPoint Energy, said in an emailed statement. “We are committed to the city of Minneapolis, to being a good neighbor, and to maintaining a positive presence in the community.”
 
“With this move we really wanted to become a bigger part of the city,” Virden said. “Our current headquarters isn’t ‘CenterPoint’ branded, but in our new location we’re going to own the building, which will allow us to brand it a ‘CenterPoint’ building and really become a presence in Minneapolis.”
 
CenterPoint currently employs 1,300 people in Minnesota, who serve 806,000 Minnesota customers.
 
The deal was signed the same day that a community environmental group reached an agreement with CenterPoint Energy to collaborate on energy initiatives.

That agreement came a week before the Minneapolis City Council plans to hold public hearings to discuss the concept of forming municipal gas and electric utilities—a move that would involve severing ties with longtime partners CenterPoint and Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, Inc. However, as a result of the new agreement, the environmental group is asking the city to exclude CenterPoint if it adds a November ballot measure about so-called “municipalization.”