MINNEAPOLIS—The Twin Cities region is home to many Fortune 500companies, but as the needs of office users change, some firms haveleft their headquarters, giving developers the opportunity torethink and reposition the now-empty assets. A joint venturecomprising Florida-based Elion Partners andMinnesota's Kraus-Anderson, for example, has justcompleted the acquisition of the former regional headquarters ofState Farm Insurance, a 100-acre site located atthe southeast corner of Radio Dr. and I-94 in suburban Woodbury.The site includes a 400,000-square-foot office building. Thepartners plan to renovate and lease the empty building andtransform the parcel into CityPlace, a 700,000-square-footmixed-use campus with shopping, restaurants, a hotel and additionaloffice space.

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The office building is only about 15 years old and “inimpeccable condition,” Juan DeAngulo, managingpartner with Elion Partners, tells GlobeSt.com. It has athree-story atrium, open design and natural lighting.Transwestern has been hired to lease the propertyand will open an on-site leasing office later this month.

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But employers today feel a great need to attract the nextgeneration of workers that have largely rejected suburban-styleoffice campuses. “They are all about having the type of amenitiesthat can provide an active life,” DeAngulo says. The new mixed-usecampus will have, among other amenities, a lake in a park-likesetting, natural wildlife and landscaping, and give employees theopportunity “to go for a walk at the end of the day. That's thetype of thing that the younger generation is looking for.”

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CityPlace could conceivably host several major office users,DeAngulo adds, since it has several entrances suitable as marqueereception areas for large firms. However, “there are plenty ofcompanies in the Twin Cities that can swallow the wholebuilding.”

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The partners' plans to create 120,000-square-feet of retailspace and a 116-room Residence Inn have beenapproved by municipal authorities. Welsh ColliersMinneapolis will market the retail component of theproject. Construction will begin immediately and the first phase ofretail is expected to be delivered in the summer of 2015.

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Transforming relatively bland suburban campuses into urban-stylecenters filled with diverse activity has become “very much a trendthat is happening around the country,” says DeAngulo. “And you'renow seeing it in the suburbs of Minneapolis.”

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Brian J. Rogal

Brian J. Rogal is a Chicago-based freelance writer with years of experience as an investigative reporter and editor, most notably at The Chicago Reporter, where he concentrated on housing issues. He also has written extensively on alternative energy and the payments card industry for national trade publications.