The city of Minneapolis is seeking redevelopment proposals for a square city block in the heart of downtown known as the Public Service Center Block.
The request for proposals is calling for new ideas for the development of housing, hotels, offices, retail or commercial buildings that are at least 10 stories tall, as well as other uses such as parking.
The potential redevelopment site has long been the subject of discussion among City Council members, economic development groups and city boosters. It now houses the well-worn Public Service Center, the City of Lakes building and two other city-owned parcels, which combined comprise about two thirds of the block bounded by 3rd and 4th Streets and by 2nd and 3rd Avenues South.
Current city workers on the block will be relocated nearby in 2021 to the new city office building being built next to the Hennepin County Government Center on the corner of 5th Street and 4th Avenue South, officials said.
The request for proposals comes as developers and brokers struggle to collect rent and fill office, hotel and retail space amid a pandemic-induced economic downturn. Minneapolis’s downtown has largely resembled a ghost down as thousands of workers work remotely and as thousands of traditional convention and business visitors avoid travel.
“Their timing couldn’t be worse,” said Lupe Development Vice President Steve Minn, whose company has redeveloped parcels of Lake Street and Franklin Avenue and other parts of the city.
While he understands that the Public Service Center and City of Lakes buildings are “antiquated,” he said, “I think they should pull the RFP. There is no reason to pursue more hotels right now. There is no need to pursue more office right now. And there is certainly no reason to pursue retail or residential right now. Not one of those four market segments is doing well anywhere, let alone in downtown.”
Still, city officials are going forward with their exploration.
“We encourage developers to respond to the Request for Qualifications for this key downtown site,” said Andrea Brennan, the city’s interim director of community planning and economic development. “We are very interested in partnering with a developer to work on a development proposal which fulfills the City’s development objectives.”
City Council Member Lisa Goodman, who chairs the city’s economic development & regulatory services committee, said that the “flexibility of downtown zoning allows for a wide variety of uses and the ability for unlimited height makes this a very attractive development site.”
Proposals are due Oct. 16.