Mall of America closes on financing for expansion

The Mall of America confirmed Monday that it has closed on the financing for its upcoming Phase 1C expansion project, paving the way for groundbreaking to occur later this month.

The $250 million expansion — located on the north side of the existing mall — will include 342-room JW Marriott luxury hotel, the MOA Crossing office building, 150,000 square feet of upscale retail, a new dining area and an underground parking ramp.

Mall of America officials have been targeting a fall 2015 opening.

via Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal

Block E courting Timberwolves for practice facility

The Minnesota Timberwolves want a new practice facility, and sources say the team is considering a site at the Block E complex across the street from Target Center.

The Wolves, for months, have been working with the city of Minneapolis on plans for a $100 million renovation of Target Center. Once the team finalizes a deal with the city, it’s expected to shift focus to developing a practice facility that would give players 24-hour access to basketball courts and workout equipment.

The Wolves currently practice at the Life Time Fitness health club inside of Target Center. That space is just 12,000 square feet, whereas many of the modern, dedicated practice facilities around the NBA are closer 40,000 or 50,000 square feet.

Real estate sources, who asked not to be named to protect client relationships, said the Wolves are “looking seriously” at a deal to move their practice space and corporate offices across the street to Block E.

Block E is a retail and entertainment complex that opened about a decade ago in Minneapolis. Since Alatus purchased the complex for $14 million in 2010, a majority of the restaurants and stores in the complex, including Borders, Applebee’s, Hooters and Hard Rock Café, have closed, giving the landlord a nearly blank slate for redevelopment.

via Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

An upscale, videogame-themed Las Vegas nightclub is expanding to downtown Minneapolis.

Insert Coin(s) Videolounge GameBar has signed a lease for an 11,000-square-foot, two-level space at 315 First Ave., a Warehouse District space formerly occupied by Karma nightclub. It’s slated to open in early October, following a nearly $1 million renovation.

Insert Coin(s) will feature 45 refurbished classic arcade cabinets and 38 high-definition TVs hooked up to game consoles, ranging from the 1970s-era Atari to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. There will be a video DJ, two full bars, a dance floor, a stage for live musical performances and a VIP room with a private entrance.

The club will maintain videogame library with thousands of titles; its staff will be able to teach patrons how to play the games. It will have between 50 and 60 employees, including at least four who are transferring from the Las Vegas club.

The 21-plus club will be open daily until 3 a.m.

via Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

New face to grace Nicollet Mall

Plans for an expanded Xcel Energy Inc. headquarters campus in downtown Minneapolis may help a long-standing effort to revitalize a blighted expanse of north Nicollet Mall that stretches to the Mississippi River.

Minnetonka-based Opus Development Corp. released plans Tuesday to build a nine-story office building on the southeast corner of Nicollet Mall and 4th Street. Office space in the new building would be leased to Xcel Energy for roughly half of its 1,500 employees downtown, with the remaining workforce located in the energy company’s headquarters across the street.

Construction is slated to begin in 2014, pending needed approvals, with occupancy expected in 2016.

Chef Oscar’s barbecue spice packets by the Minnesota Historical Society

Spice packets, Oscar Howard Frozen Foods, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota. Circa 1980.

With the unemployment rate stuck above 9%, recent college graduates are facing fierce competition for white-collar work: More than 2 million college-educated workers 25 and older are unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Midwestern cities eclipsed many glitzier coastal competitors for top spots on our list. In addition to Des Moines, Madison, Wis., ranks third; billionaire Warren’s Buffett’s hometown of Omaha, Neb., is No. 5; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., is No. 10. All three tout low unemployment rates and a large college-educated demographic. The cost of living in each of these areas is around or below the national average, ensuring their young residents’ relatively high salaries go even farther. Healthy job growth is projected in all of these heartland hubs as well.

10. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

Average Annual Job Growth (2010-2012): 0.58%
Median salary: $51,000
Cost-of-living index (U.S. average is 100): 100.2
Percent of pop. with college degrees: 37.6%
1 small business for every 45 residents
1 large business for every 1,447 residents
Unemployment rate: 6.3%

The Twin Cities offer relatively high salaries, a high concentration of small businesses and a low unemployment rate.

Portland Maine made the list (#6), but Portland Oregon did not.

Suck on that Portland.


5. Minneapolis-St. Paul — 997 points:

The Twin Cities won the first two “Best Cities” rankings in 2007 and 2008, then dropped to fourth last year when the study was expanded to include more than 100 metro areas. But the region remains strong in a number of key metrics.

Minneapolis is among the top three in the concentration of Fortune 500 companies within its metro region as well as the U.S. Census Bureau’s count of firms and establishments. It’s also in the top 25 in six other categories.

Minneapolis stumbles a bit, though, when it comes to such metrics as GDP and personal income growth, as well as population growth and the number of jobs vs. population.

Still, it remains a top five city for business and shows no signs of falling out of the top echelon of metro regions. While it may seem difficult to attract newcomers to the city’s frigid climes — particularly with recent images of winter bearing down on and tearing the Metrodome roof — locals insist that those who come don’t want to leave.

“You have to embrace winter,” said Cathy Polasky, director the city’s economic development department. “Anyone who’s been here realizes that once you dress for winter, it’s a great place to be.”

Another day, another top ten list ranking for Minneapolis.