Opus Plans Downtown Mpls.’ Next Major Development

Opus is planning a large office/residential tower, with “30-plus stories,” at the north end of Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis.

Minnetonka-based Opus Development Company is in the early stages of planning its next big project in downtown Minneapolis.

On Wednesday morning, Dave Menke, executive vice president with Opus Development, outlined plans for a mixed-use tower topping 30 stories that would combine more than 300 residential units with approximately 500,000 square feet of office space at the north end of the Nicollet Mall.

The full-block site at 315 Nicollet Mall is a surface parking lot. A Sheraton-Ritz hotel once stood on the site but was demolished in 1990.

Menke disclosed the early planning efforts at a meeting of the Minnesota chapter of NAIOP, a commercial real estate development association, held at the Golden Valley Golf and Country Club as part of a panel discussion about new office development in downtown Minneapolis.

Opus knows the neighborhood. On the block to the south, Opus is building The Nic on Fifth, a 253-unit luxury apartment tower that will be completed this year. Opus is also set to build a new 222,000-square-foot office building at 401 Nicollet Mall, which will be fully leased by Xcel Energy, Inc., and will be complete in 2016.

After the panel discussion, Menke shared additional details with Twin Cities Business and stressed that Opus is in the early stages of developing its plan for the block and has not submitted any plans to the city of Minneapolis.

“It’s land that we own. It’s natural for us to be looking forward beyond our Nic project, our Xcel project,” he said. “Geographically, the Ritz block is next. It has just a lot of phenomenal attributes. . . . We’re excited about it.”

The site is across the street from the Minneapolis Central Library and close to other development sites. It’s not far from the corner of Hennepin Avenue and Washington Avenue where Jim Stanton of Coon Rapids-based Shamrock Development is proposing Eclipse, a 360-unit condo building.

Twin Cities Business recently reported that the City of Minneapolis is looking to issue a call for development proposals this year on the Nicollet Hotel Block, a city-owned site at 30 Third Street South. The site, which has been used for surface parking and a bus layover site, is kitty-corner from “Ritz” site where Opus is drawing up plans.

Menke said that Opus is currently envisioning a project with “30-plus stories [and] 300-plus units in a single tower.” The mixed-use plan calls for 500,000 square feet of office space on the Marquette Avenue side of the block.

“We think it’s a strong office site. It will be skyway-connected,” Menke said.

In the current climate, developers are not building “spec” office buildings without committed tenants. Menke said that Opus does not have any committed office tenants for the project, but said that his company is talking to some prospects.

“Some suspects, I’ll call them that. But they’re early in their search,” Menke said.

He said that he thinks that it’s more likely that the building will draw a combination of tenants rather than a single, large user.

It’s not clear yet if Opus will look for the housing units to be apartments or condos.

“I said ‘residential’ because in my mind today it’s unclear,” Menke said.

After years of no office development, there are now three major projects planned in downtown Minneapolis—the Xcel office building project and two others.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Company will ultimately own two new office towers totaling about 1 million square feet of space as part of the Downtown East redevelopment by Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies US, Inc.

In the North Loop area, Bloomington-based United Properties will develop a new 240,000-square-foot office building for the nonprofit National Marrow Donor Program/Be the Match.