MINNEAPOLIS-MinuteClinic has signed a lease for 52,650 sf of office space, for a new headquarters, in the International Centre, a two-building, 622,000-sf complex Downtown. The clinic will house its corporate offices on the second through fourth floors of one of the buildings, and will set up a 1,000-sf clinic on the building’s skyway level, which connects the two buildings.

The complex was commonly known as International Centre I & II at 900 and 920 2nd Ave. One building has since been named Oracle Centre after its largest tenant.

The complex is owned by the Welsh Cos., and Mike Perkins, senior vice president with NAI Welsh, arranged the MinuteClinic lease. He says the medical firm was based nearby, but had to expand. “They’re a subsidiary of CVS Pharmacy, so they’re backed by a $28-billion company. They need bigger, more modern space.” He wouldn’t divulge the specific lease rate, but said the building is marketed at about $20 per sf, gross.

In the three years since NAI bought the complex, Perkins says the occupancy has risen from 33% to 73%, thanks in part to a $1-million renovation program. “We remodeled the main floor lobbies, by getting rid of a restaurant on the main floor that was there, and opening it up. We did this with the lobbies on each floor, and the skyway. Also, our ownership added credibility, it was lacking credibility before. It’s been an excellent example of a turnaround.”

The buildings were sold to Welsh in 2004 for $40 million by an affiliate of Travelers Insurance Co., which took ownership of the property in August 2003 after the previous owners–a partnership of Zeller Realty of Chicago and ING Realty Partners–ran into financial difficulties. Travelers financed the $59-million sale of the late 1980s vintage buildings in 1998.

Perkins said the leasing improvement is made even more impressive when considering the softness of the office market Downtown. “We’re at 15% vacant, that’s soft compared to the suburban market. Target is the main driving force,” he says. The complex has a few tenants, such as Oracle and Foster Klima & Co. LLC, that moved in to be close to the nearby Target headquarters, Perkins says.

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