Dayton’s Project Signs Second Office Tenant
An example of a move-in ready office at the Dayton’s Project. The desks are designed for the Covid-era with custom-built desk dividers. Caitlin Abrams

Dayton’s Project Signs Second Office Tenant

Retail marketing startup Uncommon has signed a lease for a pre-built office space on the sixth floor of the building.

Typically a 5,000-square-foot office lease in downtown Minneapolis wouldn’t make headlines, but these aren’t typical times, and the Dayton’s Project isn’t the average development.

On Monday, developers announced that Uncommon, a retail marketing and strategy startup, will be the second office tenant coming to the project. The agency will occupy one of project’s pre-built office spaces, a 5,000-square-foot suite on the sixth floor of the 12-story building.

Jim Montez, vice president at Transwestern welcomed Uncommon to the Dayton’s Project in a Monday news release. Houston-based Transwestern is handling office leasing for the Dayton’s Project but has no involvement in retail leasing.

“Downtown Minneapolis is coming back, and The Dayton’s Project is leading the way,” Montez said. “Uncommon is exactly the kind of forward-thinking tenant ideally suited for The Dayton’s Project. We built a best-in-class building designed to support best-in-class businesses and drive the economic engine of Minneapolis.”

Uncommon bills itself as an “agency of [direct to consumer], digital, and minority-owned brand experts.” According to the release, 25 percent of Uncommon’s brand portfolio is dedicated to minority-owned or underrepresented brands. The agency, which says it gives 10 percent of its revenue back to the local community, has also partnered with Target Corp.

“As a company rooted in community, as evident in our give-back mission and brand representation, we are thrilled to be able to partner with The Dayton’s Project and participate in such an enormous project to reinvigorate downtown Minneapolis,” Nate Rajalingam, founder and CEO of Uncommon, said in the news release. “We are on a path for substantial growth in the coming years and we know our greatest asset is our team; and wanted to find a home that reflected what was most important to them.”

Uncommon is only the project’s second office tenant, joining professional services firm Ernst & Young LLP. Earnest & Young became the first tenant of the building in March of last year, leasing 30,536 square feet of office space at the site. The developers behind the Dayton’s Project have been searching for tenants for years, even before Covid-19 uprooted the office leasing business. They’ve invested millions of dollars in new amenities to attract prospective companies.

Tenants already have access to a fitness facility, rooftop terrace and library space. Project leaders have said the building will also include a 45,000-square-foot food hall created by celebrity chef and restaurateur Andrew Zimmern. The food hall is targeted to open in February with a mix of restaurants, though there’s been few updates within recent months. All the restaurants will share a bar, which means that each vendor won’t need its own liquor license.

The Dayton’s Project building was built in 1902 and was originally home to the Dayton’s flagship department store, which later became a Macy’s. The downtown Macy’s shuttered permanently in 2017, the same year that New York-based 601 W Cos. purchased the property for nearly $60 million.

The Dayton’s Project has 1.2 million square feet of space total, with about 850,000 square feet dedicated to office space, according to a property listing. The site also will include 200,000 square feet of retail on the three lower levels.

New York-based Monarch Alternative Capital, which swept in to acquire the project’s mezzanine loan in early 2021, was threatening to hold a foreclosure sale and auction the property to a new owner.

601W was current on its loan but in technical default after failing to meet leasing criteria outlined in the loan documents. Eventually, 601W secured $250 million in new financing and kicked in another $18 million in equity for what remains a huge building that’s only about 10 percent leased. To build public interest in the property, developers have also debuted a retail market on the first floor of the building, which opened in late 2021.

601W has until Nov. 1, 2023, to lease 400,000 square feet of space. The company must lease up the remaining 525,000 square feet by October 2024.