Woodbury State Farm Campus Eyes Redevelopment

A Florida-based real estate investment company appears to be winning over Woodbury officials with the idea of building 100,000 square feet of medical office space near the 400,000-square-foot former State Farm building off Interstate 94.

There would be two build-to-suit medical office buildings — 50,000 square feet each — to the north, a high-end grocery store and pedestrian-friendly retail to the south and possibly a hotel to the northwest of the former State Farm office building, according to a preliminary master concept plan released Thursday by Aventura, Fla.-based Elion Partners.

Juan DeAngulo, partner and chief operating officer of Elion Partners, and project consultant Dean Dovolis, CEO of Minneapolis-based DJR Architecture, made the pitch at the Woodbury Business Classic, held at the 8500 State Farm Way building.

Elion already has a number of undisclosed health systems, physicians groups and medical developers expressing interest in the medical buildings, DeAngulo said.

“There’s a lot of demand for that out here,” he said. “We feel it plays well with the rest of the site. It doesn’t create competing office space for the existing building. … The visibility along I-94 is very appealing for medical office buildings.”

DeAngulo also declined to say which grocery chain Elion is talking with, but said it is a “name everybody would recognize.” Dovolis called it a “quality grocer.” The plan also features plenty of pedestrian-friendly features to make it easy to walk between the buildings.

Juan DeAngulo, left, partner and chief operating officer of Elion Partners, and project consultant Dean Dovolis, right, CEO of Minneapolis-based DJR Architecture, made the pitch for developing the area around the State Farm building during the Woodbury Business Classic held at the 8500 State Farm Way. (Staff photo: Bill Klotz)

Elion disclosed last month that it has the land and building under contract. After preliminary studies are finished, Elion will file a formal plan with the city to develop extra uses at the site.

There is no tenant or major tenant lined up yet for the office building; the plan is for Elion to use the master development as a marketing tool. Elion is both an investor in the property and the master developer.

Minneapolis-based RSP Architects created the master plan for the development. Minneapolis-based Kraus-Anderson is a strategic partner in the project.

“The focus is really on job creation, job diversification,” Dovolis said.

That’s music to the ears of Woodbury officials.

Elion will still have to go through a city rezoning process. But, “medical office would fit well under the current zoning,” Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said at the event.

“We’ve said from the very beginning that the vision for the property is places to work. We want to bring high-paying jobs here,” she said.

Woodbury officials may like the medical office idea. But finding tenants for 100,000 square feet of space could be tricky, said Mark Davis, principal at the Minneapolis-based health care development outfit The Davis Group.

“Can they attract some of the existing tenants to move? Is there a big player that’s not in the market currently that wants to reposition into that market?” Davis said.

The high-profile site is important to the city.

“It’s an interesting time for Woodbury, and they want to make the right decision for this gateway,” said Eric King, a Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq director who is active in the area. (Other C&W/NorthMarq brokers have been marketing the building for State Farm.)

The city has not been as enthusiastic about previous plans, such as St. Paul-based Wellington Management’s proposal to bring a Costco and senior housing to the campus.

“As plans have been laid out, they didn’t always fit that vision,” Stephens said.

State Farm moved its Minnesota operations in the early 2000s to Lincoln, Neb. The 17-year-old building has been vacant since March 2005.

Source: Finance & Commerce