United Properties and Twins Agree to Transit Hub Deal

The view of the Interchange Project, now named Target Field Station, from overhead. The project will cost $85 million to build. (Submitted rendering: Hennepin County, Perkins Eastman and Knutson)The Interchange project’s name has gone the way of Hiawatha Light Rail Transit and the Central Corridor LRT.

The Minnesota Twins, United Properties and Target Corp. reached a $3.75 million deal with Hennepin County — approved Thursday afternoon — to take over certain operations and other costs of the $85 million transit hub near Target Field.

Among the changes: renaming the final product Target Field Station.

“We are very excited as a venture to have an opportunity to partner with the county to enhance what we think is a very, very good space already and make it collectively a great space,” said Twins President Dave St. Peter at a meeting Thursday.

The Twins and United Properties, which are both owned by the Minneapolis-based Pohlad Family Cos., will pay just under $2 million for naming rights to the station plaza and parking costs and another $1 million in other improvements to the station. Target will pay about $750,000 for a display screen overlooking the station’s public plaza.

The Twins and United will also retain the rights to finish and develop about 2,400 square feet of retail space on the project’s street level on Fifth Street North downhill from Target Field, as well as the option to build office space atop a planned Metro Transit police station at the southeast corner of Sixth Avenue North and Fifth Street North.

“This is a huge step forward for not just transit but also all development,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, who has helped the county negotiate the deal since early 2012. “This is going to be another spur for development down there.”

United Properties representatives didn’t respond to questions about their future plans by press time Thursday.

The county is conveying a 30,000-square-foot development pad for the Metro Transit police station at Fifth Street North and Sixth Avenue North. Metro Transit has agreed to pay ongoing maintenance and security costs, and is planning a 100-space parking ramp. Thursday’s deal includes money to help pay for 250 more parking spaces.

Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland said in an email that a final project budget for the station hasn’t yet been set, but the agency has in the past said $17.5 million is a “top-end” cost estimate. McLaughlin said the building’s design would include some retail space, but Siqveland said that also has yet to be determined.

According to terms of the deal disclosed by McLaughlin on Thursday, United or the Twins would have to pay the county $15 per square foot for any space above the police station to help offset county funds used to build the hub.

St. Peter said Thursday that market forces will dictate how – or if – United develops the possible upper levels. McLaughlin said tenants for the space would have to be found “relatively quickly,” because Metro Transit hopes to break ground on the development within days of next year’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game, set for July at Target Field.

The multimodal transportation hub will immediately link the Northstar Commuter Rail line to the Blue Line LRT system running between downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America in Bloomington.

About $32 million in project funds were covered by Hennepin County, with the rest coming from a mix of local, state and federal sources.

The view of the Interchange Project, now named Target Field Station, from overhead. The project will cost $85 million to build. (Submitted rendering: Hennepin County, Perkins Eastman and Knutson)

The hub will also eventually accommodate the Green Line LRT between Minneapolis and St. Paul’s Lowertown, which should be operational by next summer. A Green Lineextension to Eden Prairie also called the Southwest LRT, a blue line extension to Brooklyn Park called the Bottineau Transitway, and the eventual high-speed railline to Duluth, commonly called the Northern Lights Express, are all expected to eventually terminate at the station.

“It’s a big step to create this hub, but we’re ready to receive additional pieces of transit system,” McLaughlin said.

The development continues a pattern of announced projects and construction in the North Loop neighborhood near Target Field.

United Properties in 2007 bought the Ford Center at 420 Fifth Street North, an aging building they’ve since renovated and filled to nearly full capacity.

Other projects under construction nearby include the 182-unit Junction Flats apartments at 643 Fifth St. N., the 78-unit District 600 apartments at 600 Fifth St. N. and the 204-unit Third North apartments at 800 Third St. N.

McLaughlin said building Target Field helped the city and county extend downtown northwest of Interstate 394. Developers are telling him the new connection – especially the transit hub — is the major selling point of the neighborhood.

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved the deal with the developers by a 7-0 vote at its meeting Thursday.

“It is already a ‘wow,’” Commissioner Gail Dorfman said of the project. “It’s really going to be a destination.”

Construction on the hub is scheduled to end in April 2014. The completed project will also include green space, retail space and a public amphitheater. The Twins will hold programming rights on the space for each of their 81 home games once the area opens. Hennepin County was guaranteed at least 15 programming nights a year – which could be used for anything from movie nights to music festivals.

Source: Finance and Commerce