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Vikings Owner Proposes 17-Story Tower for Downtown Minneapolis

Strong Market Surrounding Stadium Could Lead to Multiple Projects on Land Owned by the Wilf Family
August 3, 2018
The family that owns the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League is in motion to develop a collection of long-held properties that are clustered near the football team’s two-year-old, $1.1 billion stadium in downtown Minneapolis, beginning with a 17-story apartment tower.

Since 2005, the team has been controlled by the Wilf family. Based in New Jersey, the family made its fortune in home building, commercial and multifamily development on the East Coast. The family has already undertaken one large-scale development in the Twin Cities suburbs: Viking Lakes, which includes plans to build retail, office and a thousand residential units on the 200 acres around the Vikings’ new corporate headquarters and practice facility in Eagan.

However, until now the Wilf family hasn't attempted to capitalize on the burgeoning market that has sprung up around U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis proper. Completed in 2016, the stadium hosted the NFL's Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018.

The new apartment tower is planned for a parking lot at 240 Park Avenue. But that could be just the start of an extended effort to build on Wilf-owned properties downtown, said Don Becker, who serves as both project executive with the Vikings and is a principal for the Wilf’s development business, Garden Homes.

The .75-acre site at 240 Park is part of a package of lots purchased from Central Parking in 2007. The portfolio also includes about 1.1 acres at the northeast corner of Chicago Avenue and Fourth Street and roughly .9 acres of vacant land immediately to the east, right before Third and Fourth Street briefly converge and dip under Interstate 35.

Back then, the company did not have specific plans for the properties, Becker said, but thought they may be useful, either to the stadium project itself or as development properties down the road. At the time, downtown’s residential population was much lower: According to the Minneapolis Downtown Council, 11,552 people moved into the downtown area between 2006 and 2017, bringing the total residential population from about 32,000 to 43,456, a 36.2 percent increase.

A hotspot in this residential renaissance has been the area north and east of the stadium, which has been in the midst of a building boom that shows little sign of abating. Until now, other developers like Minneapolis’ Ryan Companies, Alatus and the Sherman Group have been the most active there, Becker said, but the Wilf family is ready to get in the game.

Right now, much of the plan for 240 Park is preliminary, and many aspects of the project are still to be determined. Company executives still have yet to decide on the number and type of units, amenity mix, and target segment of the rental market.

However, Garden Homes favors low turnover in its building and prefers stable, long-term tenants -- for instance, empty-nesters or newlyweds who plan to stay for years, rather than months. Whatever the final design entails, the apartments will be large enough to comfortably sustain families.

Becker, along with members of Minneapolis architectural firm BKV Group, will present preliminary plans for the tower at a neighborhood meeting on Monday. For now, the group is just looking for informal feedback, Becker said.

He added plans for the rest of the parcels are still to be determined.
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