MINNETONKA, MN-Welsh Construction LLC has received city approval to build a new four-story office building on the site of the former Fingerhut headquarters here. Welsh is already tearing down a two-story building on the business campus, and renovating an existing four-story building.

Welsh is the owner of the property, though Petters Group Worldwide, the company that took over Fingerhut, still leases the existing four-story facility, says city planner Julie Wischnack. Welsh did not return calls for comment on this project. In requests for variances for the new building, the company told the city that a third phase of the project would include another new four-story office building on the southern portion of the site. This third phase has yet to come before the city council for approval. In total, the entire project would take up 315,000 sf if all approved.

Welsh asked for variances on the second phase building’s height, at more than 45 feet tall, and a sign variance. “We believe this location is a natural site for development of a first class, small office campus with class ‘A’ office space,” said Mike Schraad, vice president of Welsh in a letter detailing the variances. The southwest Minneapolis suburb market has a 12.4% vacancy rate, with about 344,000-sf of new office under construction, according to a Grubb & Ellis fourth-quarter market report.

Schraad said the site will attract solid tenants. Those moving in could include Welsh itself, Wischnack tells GlobeSt.com. “They are thinking of occupying one of the buildings,” she says.

In 1996, the property sold for $5.9 million, Wischnack says. Welsh bought the property for $8.8 million in July 2006. The company said it would like to begin construction on the first two phases immediately. Fingerhut, the large mail-order catalog operation, began its headquarters here in the 1970s.

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