Cobalt is a stunning blue-glass high-rise development two blocks from the Mississippi River at the most prominent location in Northeast Minneapolis.
This approximately $65 million mixed-used project is located in historic Old St. Anthony directly across the river from downtown Minneapolis and a mile west of the University of Minnesota’s main campus.
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A ground-up development, the project involved the acquisition of the two-acre site shown above, the demolition of an obsolete 40,000 square foot strip center and a four-story office building, and the construction of a 44,500 square foot retail podium, a three-level parking ramp for 280 vehicles (the lower below-grade level being reserved for residential parking), and five and nine story towers above the retail podium for 93 upscale residential condominium units. The towers feature a patented pre-cast concrete truss structure system and are sheathed with a curtain wall with two distinctive shades of blue glass.
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Lunds, Inc., the operator of 22 upscale Lunds and Byerly’s grocery stores in the Twin Cities, master leased the entire retail podium. Subtenants include Caribou Coffee, White Way Cleaners, Bachman’s Flower Shop, North Memorial Medical Clinic, Cost Cutters, and Chuck & Don’s Pet Food Warehouse.
Development challenges for the project, included working with a task force of five neighborhood associations to negotiate design, density, and height issues; securing Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission approval to demolish the four story office building; acquiring a small portion of the site from an unmotivated seller; negotiating the relocation of two existing tenants of the strip center; staging construction so a small grocery store acquired by Lunds, Inc. could continue operating; and marketing 93 residential condominium units in a national economy sliding into the Great Recession.
The legal structure of the project involved the creation of a "master" condominium with a "master retail unit" for the Lunds store and a "master residential unit" for the housing. The residential unit was further subdivided into 93 individual residential units and 149 garage stall units through the creation of a separate condominium regime known as Cobalt Condominiums. Before construction, Exeter negotiated the sale of the "master retail unit" to Pioneer Property Partners II LLC which includes a large public pension fund.
Because of the collapsing window for condo projects in late 2005, it was necessary to "fast-track" the project and start construction of the building before the Lunds store or the residential units were designed.
The Lunds store opened in November of 2006 and the first condo owners moved in shortly thereafter. All of the condo units were completed and sold. Pope Associates was the architect, McGough Construction was the general contractor, and US Bank and LaSalle Bank were the construction lenders. The project has received architectural recognition and an engineering award.