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Building Buzz: March 18 - 22

posted on 03.25.2024

We're reading the headlines so you don't have to.

From the EPA banning the last form of asbestos in the United States to a $40M senior project in Lake Elmo to a bipartisan bill in Wisconsin boosting EV infrastructure across the state, here's what was buzzing in the building world the week of March 18 - 22, 2024:



Advocates win planning grant to redesign Olson Memorial Highway
The federal government awarded $1.6-million to a Minneapolis advocacy group to study redeveloping Olson Memorial Highway as a transit-and-pedestrian-oriented boulevard. Highway 55 is currently one of Minneapolis' deadliest streets. Advocates want to address that and restore a long-lost commercial district that the highway paved over. MnDOT is already making plans to narrow the highway, which the 1990s construction of I-394 made redundant. (Axios Twin Cities)

Biden signs strong budget for inland waterways construction
The fiscal year 2024 budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was included in a funding package for six federal agencies that was signed by Biden on March 8th, providing a health infusion of funds to continue maintenance and modernization of the inland waterway system. Overall, the bill provides $8.7-billion for the Corps through September 30th, an increase of $1.27-billion over what the Biden Administration had proposed for FY24. (Work Boat)

Business Confidence Gaining Momentum Among CEOs
According to a new report out from California-based advisory group Vistage, business confidence among small- and mid-sized business owners is gaining momentum. Vistage surveyed a number of CEOs from a variety of industries, including construction. When it comes to construction, 16% of business owners said they expect the economy to improve in the year ahead, while 47% expect it to remain about the same, 36% expect it to worsen, and 1% don't know/don't have an opinion. (For Construction Pros)

Dollar General plans 800 stores this year as rival Dollar Tree pulls back
One month after opening its 20,000th store, Dollar General said during an earnings call that it plans to open 800 more new stores, remodel 1,500 locations and relocate 85 stores this year --- 2,385 real estate projects overall. The news comes one day after chief rival Dollar Tree Inc. said it plans to close about 600 of its Family Dollar locations this year and an additional 400 stores under both banners in the coming years as leases expire. (Construction Dive)

EPA bans last form of asbestos used in United States
The US Environmental Protection Agency said that it is taking a "historic" step by banning ongoing uses of asbestos, which has long been linked to multiple types of cancer. The agency's announcement of the final rule applies to chrysotile asbestos, the only form of asbestos currently being used in or imported to the United States. It is the most common type of asbestos used in the world, used in car parts such as aftermarket automotive brakes and linings and other vehicle friction products and gaskets. It's been banned in 50 other counties. (CNN Health)

Golf center planned near Mystic Lake Casino
A new golf driving range and entertainment center in Prior Lake is expected to begin construction this spring, according to a press release from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The center will be the first in the United States for Launchpad Golf, a Canadian company that has established golfing facilities in that country. The facility will be a two-story, 25,000-square-foot building with the ability to serve over 500 people. It will include 40 heated golf suites, a restaurant and two bars. (Finance & Commerce)

LaunchPad Gold to open large attraction at Mystic Lake in Prior Lake
The facility will feature a 160,000-square-foot driving range anchored by a 25,000-square-foot building featuring 40 heated golf suites, two bars and a full-service restaurant. The idea is comparable to the indoor/outdoor concept of Topgolf, where golfers can socialize and play golf games year round. According a new release announcing the partnership, it will be the first LaunchPad Golf facility to open in the United States. Construction will begin as early as this spring and the facility is expected to open in mid-2025. (Minneapolis - St Paul Business Journal)

Milwaukee Plan Commission to review 32-story mass timber project
Madison-based The Neutral Project introduced plans for The Edison, a 381-unit apartment tower with street-facing retail at 1005 North Edison Street. The developer wants to break ground in September and complete construction in 2027, but they must get approval from the Milwaukee Plan Commission first. Chicago-based Hartshorned Plunkard Architecture submitted plans to the city with renderings, details about the design and sustainability features. According to the plans, The Edison will be built where a historic timber yard once was. (Finance & Commerce)

Research explores safer work zones for flaggers
Flaggers directing traffic in work zones have an especially dangerous job, since they are charged with stopping distracted or aggressive drivers from entering work zones. Working directory with maintenance workers to ensure their needs and expectation were met, researchers developed and test two smart sign systems: both a Stop/Slow paddles, similar to what flaggers traditionally use, and a portable traffic signal prototype were modified to include vehicle trajectory tracking and audiovisual warning capabilities. (Finance & Commerce)


EPA asbestos ban is '30 years in the making'
The final rules marks a major expansion of EPA regulation under a landmark 2016 law that overhauled regulations governing tens of thousands of toxic chemicals in everyday products, from household cleaners to clothing and furniture. The new rule would ban chrysotile asbestos, the only ongoing use of asbestos in the United States. The substance is found in products such as brake linings and gaskets and is used to manufacture chlorine bleach and sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda, including some that is used for water purification. (Finance & Commerce)

Fight over Midtown Greenway on-ramp will go before Minneapolis park board
Minneapolis park board members will meet to consider a plan to pave an on-ramp to the Midtown Greenway through a community garden. From I-35 to almost Bde Maka Ska, there are no access points to the greenway that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This on-ramp would change that. Hennepin County planners disputed that construction would rob the garden of plantable square footage, the Star Tribune reported. (Axios Twin Cities)

Grant programs helps states build and connect trails across U.S.
The Biden administration was set to open applications for a new grant program that for the first time prioritizes not just building trails but connecting the existing ones. The 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law allowed for as much as $1-billion over five years for the program, but Congress has authorized less than $45-million so far. Still, trail activities say the commitment is almost as important as the dollar figure. (Finance & Commerce)

Milwaukee's Baird Center expansion exceeds minority business goal
When the project started, it had goals to assign 25% of its contracts to minority-owned businesses, 5% to women-owned businesses and 1% to disabled veteran-owned businesses. To date, the project engaged 25.3% minority-owned businesses, 16.5% women-owned businesses and 1% disabled veteran-owned businesses, reported James Methu, the community affairs and inclusion specialist at Gilbane Building Co., to the Wisconsin Center District board. (Finance & Commerce)

The Once and Future Shopping Mall
In the many decades since we started going to shopping malls, we have rarely stopped to ask what larger purpose, if any, they are supposed to serve. They are seen almost entirely as commercial enterprises designed to make a profit and respond to, and often create, consumer demand. Very littler has been written about malls as a social institution. But social values were very much on the mind of Victor Gruen, the Austrian-born designer who created the first enclosed mall in the United States, Southdale Center in suburban Minneapolis, in 1956. (Governing)

STUDY: Conversions could help revitalize downtown St Paul
Looking in part at the past to create a roadmap for the future, downtown St Paul boosters are counting on office-to-housing conversions like the Pioneer Endicott project to create a more vibrant central business district. In 2011, PAK Properties and Halverson and Blaiser Group Ltd. paid $1.1-million for the 1889-vintage, 350,000-square-foot Pioneer Endicott complex at 141 East Fourth Street in downtown St Paul and spent to $42-million turn the former offices into 234 apartments. With office building owners struggling to find tenants in the post-pandemic era, conversions are fashionable again --- and downtown St Paul is in a good place to capitalize on that trend, according to a new report from the Downtown Saint Paul Alliance. (Finance & Commerce)

Tennant rolls out compact floor-scrubbing robot
The X4 ROVR is a more compact robotic scrubber designed for smaller spaces, which can be monitored with a mobile application, email reports and an online portal. It's much smaller and self-guided needing less intervention from human hands (note the absence of the steering wheel included in older models of autonomous Tennant cleaners). It's equipped with a 10-gallon solution tank and can clean at a rate of up to 20,000-square-feet on a single full tank.  (Minneapolis - St Paul Business Journal)

United Properties plans $40M senior project in Lake Elmo
Minneapolis-based United Properties hopes to start pushing dirt soon on a $40-million, 147-unit senior housing community in Lake Elmo, the developer's fourth Amira-branded project in the Twin Cities. Amira Lake Elmo LLC, an entity related to United Properties, paid $756,000 in cash for the nearly 12-acre development site at 8695 Eagle Point Boulevard as part of an internal sale, according to a newly released certificate of real estate value. United Land LLC was the seller. (Finance & Commerce)


Anoka County, MnDOT launch review of Highway 10 expansion plan
The project, overseen by Anoka County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, will expand Highway 10 from four lanes to six lanes on a 3.2-mile stretch between Round Lake Boulevard and Creek Meadow Drive in Coon Rapids. Additional work includes widening of shoulders, construction of wet ponds and infiltration basics, mill and overlay of existing pavement, wetland and floor plain mitigation, lighting and culvert improvements, and noise wall construction. The project is designed to relieve backups on stretches of highway that see up to two hours of congestion in peak hours. (Finance & Commerce)

Bipartisan bills boost EV charging network across Wisconsin
The new laws free up nearly $80-million in federal construction air and make it easier for gas stations, convenience stores and other businesses to operate the electric vehicle charging stations. The measures were backed by businesses and environmentalists alike and cheered as a way for Wisconsin to expand its electric vehicle charging network. (Finance & Commerce)

Judge throws out lawsuit against Minneapolis church redevelopment
Hennepin County District Court Judge Lois Conroy ruled in favor of the city of Minneapolis and the project's developers --- an entity called Beard Manager LLC --- after neighboring property owner Dan Murphy alleged the city erred in granting approvals for the project. The project is located at the site of the former Lake Harriet Christian Church, at 5009 Beard Avenue, a few blocks east of the 50th & France shopping district. The project seeks to replace the church with a 5-story, 63-unit apartment building and 1,500-square-feet of commercial space. (Minneapolis - St Paul Business Journal)

Rachel acquires golf course site, faces lawsuit to stop development
St. Michael-based Rachel Development Inc. paid $4.7-million for the old Mississippi Dunes Golf Course site, where it plans to create 377 single-family housing lots, according to a certificate of real estate value made public. The City Council approved the project in February, despite pushback from residents. During a contentious City Council meeting, residents raised concerns about potential impacts to bee populations, mussels, endangered species, birds, trees and more. (Finance & Commerce)

United Properties plans Amira senior housing project in Lake Elmo
Finance & Commerce talks with the Minneapolis-based developer about its plans for a $40-million, 147-unit senior housing community called Amira Lake Elmo. Construction is set to begin this spring, with an opening possibly by mid-2025. (Minneapolis - St Paul Business Journal)


Permitting reform bills introduced to Minnesota Legislature
Efforts to streamline environmental permitting in Minnesota are getting attention of state lawmakers on the heels of a recent study that links permitting reform to economic growth. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and other organizations are backing two newly introduced bills designed to simply the time-consuming process of obtaining air, water, and wetland permits for projects. (Finance & Commerce)

Wisconsin school referendums seek $1.3B in repairs and operating costs
Wisconsin schools in April will ask voters to approve more than $1.3-billion for building repairs, maintenance and operating costs. This includes a quarter-billion-dollar revenue increase for Milwaukee Public Schools, which has received different responses from the city business community and its leadership. In April 2023, there were 83 referendums that sought to increase local property taxes for K-12 schools; 46 were approved, or over $600-million of the nearly $1.2-billion districts asked for that year. There will be 91 referendums on the April 2nd ballot, according to data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. (Finance & Commerce)

Projects to Watch

Building Buzz: March 11 - 15

posted on 03.22.2024

We're reading the headlines so you don't have to.

From how the upcoming solar eclipse on April 8th might interrupt solar power generation to a proposed 48-unit apartment in Burnsville to tree ordinances in Edina, here's what was buzzing in the building world the week of March 11 - 15, 2024:


A Glassy Office Tower Project is Being Marketed for Downtown Minneapolis
The site of the former Wells Fargo operations center in downtown Minneapolis could look like this, if Sherman Associates has its way. Sherman and JLL have begun marketing the project, called Washington Yards, to prospective tenants so they can eventually break ground on what would be a full city block redevelopment. The project would include two residential towers to complement the office building, which would stand 16-stories and have 400,000-square-feet. (2-5-2024 | Axios Twin Cities)


April's eclipse could interrupt solar power generation, strain electrical grids
During the most recent total eclipse visible in the U.S., on August 21, 2017, the skies darkened as the Moon crossed in front of the sun. It blocked out all sunlight --- except for that from a golden ring visible around the Moon's shape, called the corona. Not surprisingly, solar power generation across North America plummets for several hours, from the first moment the Moon began to obscure the sun to when the sun's disk was clear again. On April 8, 2024, another total eclipse will track across the U.S., causing perhaps an even greater loss of solar power generation. Although this will be the second total solar eclipse visible in the U.S. in under seven years, these events are a rare occurrence. Nevertheless, they present a unique challenge to power grid operations. (Finance & Commerce)

Playwrights' Center will spend $18M on move to St Paul
Playwrights' Center has been in the Deward neighborhood of Minneapolis for about 45 years serving storytellers and audiences. It's soon set to move to St. Paul to usher in a new era for the building at 710 Raymond Avenue, a property with a history of family and horses. The site was most recently home to Viking Industrial Center, a retailer for contractors. It's not a likely match --- and the move is going to cost Playwrights' Center (PWC) about $18-million in public and private funds. (Minneapolis / St Paul Business Journal)

Power co-ops receive $87M in USDA loans
The United States Department of Agriculture announced an $87.6-million investment in Greater Minnesota electricity cooperatives, which will go toward line repairs, grid technology updating and connecting further consumers to reliable electricity, according to a press release. The funds are part of the Electric Infrastructure Loan and Guarantee Program, which announced $2.2-billion worth of investment throughout the country. The loan will cover the costs of construction for about four or five years, Runestone Electric Association CEO Al Haman said. Runestone, based in Alexandria, regularly applies for and receives these loans, Haman said, and this year was awarded $25-million. (Finance & Commerce)


Buried Risks: Protecting Underground Utilities During Construction
A potential disaster is lurking under American streets and soil, and it only takes one misstep for lives to be on the line. Every few minutes, an underground utility line is damaged by excavation activity, putting public safety at risk, disconnecting communities and businesses from vital services, and impacting the economy to the tune of $30-billion annually. (For Construction Pros)

More Construction Projects are Being Delayed or Abandoned Entirely
The number of U.S. construction projects that are being abandoned, paused or seeing a delayed bid date was up 1.7% over the last month for the week ending March 2, according to ConstructConnect. Fourteen percent more public projects, which includes infrastructure work, are on hold compared to the same week in 2023, ConstructConnect reports. On the private side, 9% more projects are on hold. Perhaps most alarmingly, the number of abandoned public projects jumped 70% compared to the same week in 2023. (BisNow National)

REPORT: Inefficient permitting delays clean energy projects
Slow and inefficient permitting is creating headwinds for the development of new wind, solar and transmission projects in Minnesota and making it harder to achieve clean energy goals. So says a new report from North Star Policy Action, which describes itself as an independent research and communications institute. The report finds that Minnesota has fallen behind Iowa and the Dakotas in clean energy production --- even though those neighboring states don't share Minnesota's aggressive goals for carbon-free energy. (Finance & Commerce)


DEED seeks applications for broadband grants
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development is accepting applications for $50-million in broadband development grants. DEED Commissioner Mark Varilek said in a statement that the grants will benefit "thousands of Minnesotans" who don't have broadband service. DEED announced funding for 24 broadband projects in early March. (Finance & Commerce)

Minnesota gets $7M from Feds for infrastructure
The funding, announced by the White House, includes $3.6-million for a Hennepin County-led Highway 55 project, $1.8-million for Interstate 35 in Duluth, and $1.6-million for the Sixth Avenue North corridor in Minneapolis. The money is "aimed at reconnecting communities that were cut off by transportation infrastructure decades ago, leaving entire neighborhoods without direct access to opportunity, like schools, jobs, medical offices, and places of worship," according to a White House press release. (Finance & Commerce)

Infrastructure Bids Exceed Estimate at The Heights
Nearly $30-million worth of infrastructure work for The Heights --- an ambitious redevelopment of the former Hillcrest Golf Course in St. Paul --- has a higher-than-expected price, as construction bids are about $4-million above the engineer's estimates. The Saint Paul Authority recently opened four contractor bids for the work, including East Bethel-based Designing Earth Contracting's apparent low of $28.85-million. The estimate range was $22-million to $24.5-million, according to Port Authority documents. Also bidding was Forest Lake Contracting ($33.1-million), Meyer Contracting ($33.38-million), and RL Larson Excavation ($35.67-million). (Finance & Commerce)

MWF plans 48-unit apartment in Burnsville
The project will be developed by MWF Properties and is located at 180 Pillsbury Avenue South. It will be four stories tall and have a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. The building, dubbed Pillsbury Ridge Apartments, will also include a "tot lot" or a surface play area for children. The property will include an underground garage with 48 stalls and 20 surface lot stalls. (Finance & Commerce)

New Construction Technology Releases: March 2024
As spring construction season begins, staying on top of new tech trends is important to builders looking to maximize output and slash costs. Here are five recent announcements from software makers and other tech providers about new offerings or updates to existing products that are designed to smooth out construction for contractors. These five announcements include Leica Geosystems, digital twin creator Matterport, Cintoo and its new "teleport camera," IDS GeoRadar, and autonomous heavy equipment retrofitter SafeAI. (Construction Dive)

Redevelopment of riot-stricken Wells Fargo site in Minneapolis to begin this spring
The project, led by a partnership between Minneapolis-based Project for Pride in Living Inc. and San Francisco's Wells Fargo & Co., is poised to build 110 affordable housing units with 14,400-square-feet of ground-floor commercial space, including a new Wells Fargo bank branch and space for businesses owned by people of color. The site is located at 3030 Nicollet Avenue, just off of West Lake Street. A $61-million plan, the now-leveled Wells Fargo branch was damaged during a riot after the murder of George Floyd and construction is expected to begin this spring. (Minneapolis - St Paul Business Journal)

REPORT: Office-to-apartment projects are key to St. Paul downtown revival
A group of St. Paul business leaders say the city must refocus downtown on pedestrian life and step up redevelopment projects --- especially office-to-apartment conversions --- if it wants to revitalize Minnesota's capital city. The recommendations from the St. Paul Downtown Alliance came as part of a 126-page report, titled "Downtown Investment Strategy." (Minneapolis - St Paul Business Journal)

Upgrades coming to Hennepin and First Avenues
With help from mild weather, crews will begin pre-construction activities this month, according to the county. Workers will "remove some trees along the sidewalks, and install temporary signal poles to prepare for upgraded pedestrian crossings," the county said. Scheduled for completion this fall, the project will improve Hennepin and First avenues from Main Street to Eighth Street in northeast Minneapolis. The improvements will benefit people who "walk, bike, roll, use transit, ride, and drive," the county said. (Finance & Commerce)


Developer plans affordable rentals, grocery west of downtown Minneapolis
Real estate investor James Archer of Matrix Development is planning to build an 86-unit affordable apartment building in Northwest Minneapolis, possibly with a grocery store. In a released memo, Minneapolis public documents identified Matrix Development as the "emerging" developer that was given exclusive rights to develop the city-owned vacant property at 2113 Glenwood Avenue. The project is still in the early phases, but the plan is to build 86-units at or below 50% of the area's median income. There will be 14 one-bedroom, 39 two-bedroom, 18 three-bedroom, and 10 four-bedroom units. (Minneapolis - St Paul Business Journal)

Edina Planning Commission pushes back on France Avenue Redevelopment Plan
Southdale Office Partners, which owns the 22-acre site at 6600 to 6800 France Avenue South, wants the city to rezone the property from Planned Unit Development to Planned Commercial District to allow for the 107,000-square-foot medical building, along with an 8,000-square-foot restaurant and a parking deck. By a 6-2 vote, Edina's Planning Commission recommended denial of the request amid concerns about bicycle and pedestrian access and tree removal to make way for a parking structure on the site. (Finance & Commerce)

Johnson Bros. Pulls Out of Plan for Eagan's Blue Cross Blue Shield Site
The city of Eagan received a notice from the St. Paul-based wine and spirits distributor (Johnson Bros. Liquor Co.) that it was withdrawing its application for redevelopment and a comprehensive guide amendment for the site, which would have been the firm's new corporate headquarters. The company determined the site isn't the best fit for its expected future needs, Johnson Bros. said in a statement provided to the Pioneer Press. It's now exploring other options in the metro, including St. Paul. (Minneapolis-St Paul Business Journal)

Legislative Auditor Report Calls for More Coordination to Prevent Worker Misclassification
A new report from the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor finds that the state lacks a "coordinated approach" to preventing employers from misclassifying workers as independent contractors. Worker misclassification, which is prohibited by state law, allows employers to reduce labor costs and gain an unfair competitive advantage in the marketplace, according to the OLA report. Misclassification rates in Minnesota are unknown, the report says. (Finance & Commerce)

Mortenson to Build $800M Meta Data Center in Rosemount
Golden Valley-based Mortenson has been tapped to build the 715,000-square-foot project on a 280-acre site at UMore Park in Rosemount, a former WWII gunpowder production site that was later owned by the University of Minnesota. Governor Walz and other state leaders confirmed the mega project, and the announcement comes after months of media reports and speculation about a mystery company's plans to build a large data center at UMore Park. (Finance & Commerce)

Storm Washes Away $600K of Sand Meant to Protect Nearby Infrastructure
A Massachusetts beach community is scrambling after a weekend storm washed away $600,000 in sand that was trucked in to protect homes, roads and other infrastructure. The project, which brought 14,000-tons of sand into Salisbury over several weeks, was completed just three days before Sunday's storm clobbered southern New England with strong winds, heavy rainfall and coastal flooding. (Finance & Commerce)


Michael Foods Buys Gaylord Apartments
When Hopkins-based Michael Foods Inc. had trouble finding and keeping workers at its plant in Gaylord, the problem was that some of those workers couldn't find affordable housing. So Michael paid $2-million to buy the 48-unit Gaylord Villas at 10 Eighth Street. Depot 1881 LLC, an entity of Michael Foods, bought the property from Gaylord Villa LLC, an entity of Babinski Properties in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (Finance & Commerce)

Tree Ordinances in Edina, Minnetonka Raising Ire of Developers, Homebuilders
When homebuilder Rebecca Remick was recently finalizing plans to construct a new house in Edina, she and her client were slapped with an unexpected fee from the city: a $19,000 deposit for permission to tear down a 35-foot tree in the way of the project. Remick, owner of Edina-based City Homes, was "stunned" by that dollar amount, she told the Edina City Council at a meeting last month. The homeowner had just become financially secure enough to make living in Edina a reality, but the newly discovered requirement made the dream of a perfect home more difficult to achieve. (Minneapolis - St Paul Business Journal)

Labor & Workforce

Building Buzz: March 4 - 8

posted on 03.15.2024

We're reading the headlines so you don't have to.

From the Chanhassen Cinema Redevelopment project to a new CEO named at Kraus-Anderson to the approval of the I-94 expansion in Milwaukee, here's what was buzzing in the building world the week of March 4-8, 2024:


Builder JE Dunn Marks 100 Years
JE Dunn Construction plans a "year-long campaign" to celebrate its 100 years in business and nearly 80 years in Minneapolis, according to a press release from the construction group. JE Dunn is a construction company that is family- and employee-owned, according to the press release. It has 26 offices throughout the nation. It is the eighth-largest domestic general building contractor in the United States. (3-6-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Chanhassen Cinema Redevelopment Project Up for Review
An estimated $125-million redevelopment project would bring hundreds of apartment units and retail uses to the former Chanhassen Cinema site in Chanhassen --- as well as a new artwork dedicated to Minnesota music royalty. Roers Cos., which will go before the City Council for project approvals, wants to redevelop the four-acre site near West 78th Street and Market Boulevard with a 310-unit, market-rate apartment building and 14,000-square-feet of retail space. (3-6-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

MnDOT Schedules Meeting About Stone Arch Bridge
The Stone Arch Bridge restoration is the subject of a March 19th virtual public meeting hosted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Construction begins this spring. As part of the project, crews will repair the historic bridge over the Mississippi River on the edge of downtown Minneapolis. Repairs and mortar replacement will improve the bridge's condition and stonework. (3-6-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

$300M Ryan Cos. Redevelopment of Greensboro Berkshire Hathaway Site is Shelved
Ryan Cos. is no longer pursuing a $300-million redevelopment of the former News & Record site in downtown Greensboro, NC., a spokesperson from the Minneapolis developer confirmed to Triad Business Journal. The mixed-use project the Ryan Co. and TH3 Partners LLC were planning included two, 250,000-square-feet commercial buildings with around 300 to 400 apartment units that would have been built after the current 158,000-square-foot building is demolished. (3-7-2024 | Minneapolis / St Paul Business Journal)

A Government Business Reporting Mandate Loses in Court. Here's What Happens Next.
The Corporate Transparency Act, which kicked in January 1st, requires businesses with fewer than 20 employees to provide names, dates of birth, addresses and other identifying information about its owners. It's part of a larger effort by the Department of the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to crack down on money laundering and other financial crimes. On March 1st, a U.S. District Court judge in Huntsville, Alabama, ruled the government overstepped and the legislation exceeds the powers granted to its by the Constitution. The National Small Business Association brought the lawsuit alongside small-business owner Isaac Winkles. (3-7-2024 | Minneapolis-St Paul Business Journal)

Construction Job Openings Surge 41% Year Over Year
The construction industry counted 413,000 open jobs on the last day of January, a 41% increase year over year, or 120,000 more unfilled positions, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released. At the end of January, 4.4% of construction jobs went unfilled, down slightly from 4.7% in December and 5% a year prior. Quits hardly changed from December, and were down 19.6% year over year. Meanwhile the industry counted about 40% more layoffs in January 2024 than in the same month in 2023. (3-7-2024 | Construction Dive)

Luxury Apartment Tower 4th & Park in Minneapolis' Downtown East Opens in April
The 350-unit, 25-story high-rise, known as 4th & Park, is gearing up for move-ins starting April 1st. The mixed-use tower is currently pre-leasing for the apartments, owner and property manager Kirkland, Washington-based Weidner Apartment Homes announced. The 265,000-square-foot tower offers studios, one-, and two-bedroom units and three-bedroom penthouses. Units feature quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, oversized vanity mirrors, walk-in closets and wood-plank flooring. (3-7-2024 | Minneapolis-St Paul Business Journal)

New CEO Named at Kraus-Anderson After Engelsma Steps Down
Bruce Engelsma, longtime leader of Kraus-Anderson Cos., is stepping back from this role as CEO, and Chief Operating Officer Peter Diessner is the new top boss at the construction group, according to a press release. Diessner has been the COO of Kraus-Anderson since March 2023 and held various leadership positions at its subsidiaries since May 2018. Before that he was a real estate attorney at Fredrickson & Byron and then Speeter & Johnson. (3-7-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Rise in Project Abandonments Signals Continued Industry Turmoil
The Project Stress Index --- a measure of construction projects with a delayed bid date, or that have been paused or abandoned --- rose 1.7% in the last 30 days, according to a March report from ConstructConnect. Work put on hold increased 11% over the previous 30 days through March 2, said Michael Guckes, senior economist at ConstructConnect. Compared to the same period in 2023, the project stress index remains up 13%, added Guckes, signaling ongoing uncertainty within construction. But public and private sector projects continue to show different patterns. While both face increasing delays and cancellations, public projects, due to their funding mechanisms, remain in a comparatively stronger position to push work forward. (3-7-2024 | Construction Dive)

The High Cost of Maintaining Affordable Housing
Michael Howard was a Richfield City Council member when, in 2015, nearly 670 residents were displaced from Crossroads at Penn, a large Richfield apartment complex that was home to low-income residents. A Twin Cities developer had purchased the building, renovated it, and rebranded it as the Concierge, offering market-rate units that the current residents could not afford. Two years later, Seasons Park Apartments, another affordable housing complex in Richfield, was at risk of being turned into market-rate units just as Crossroads was. Instead, Howard and his city council colleagues worked with Aeon, a developer and operator of affordable housing, which ultimately took ownership of the complex and preserved 422-units of affordable housing. (3-7-2024 | Finance & Commerce) 

ASHRAE Commercial Building Code Standard Now Requires On-Site Renewables
The U.S. Department of Energy has issued ASHRAE a determination affirming that ANSI / ASHRAE / IES Standard 90.1-2022, which incorporates a renewable energy mandate for the first time, will improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings governed by the code. The DOE's technical analysis estimates that implementing Standard 90.1-2022, the Energy Standard for Sites and Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, would provide commercial buildings site energy savings of 9.8%, source energy savings of 9.4%, and carbon emissions reductions of 9.3% on a weighted national average. When factoring renewable energy into these results, those improvements increase to site energy savings of 14%, source energy savings of 14.7%, and carbon emission cuts of 14.7%, the analysis suggests. (3-8-2024 | Smart Cities Dive)

I-94 Expansion in Milwaukee Receives Federal Approval
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced that the plan received an OK from the Federal Highway Administration. The state DOT will now move on to final design and construction. The project will widen I-94 from six to eight lanes along a 3.5-mile stretch between 16th and 70th streets on the city's west side. Along with adding lanes, the project includes road modifications that will eliminate left-hand exit and entrance ramps and "right-sizing" the Stadium Interchange. (3-8-2024 | Wisconsin Public Radio)

Lead from old paint and pipes remain deadly hazard in millions of U.S. homes
Widely used in products such as paint and gasoline until the late 1970s, lead continues to contaminate environments and harm the health of people around the world. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1-million deaths each year are attributable to lead poisoning, with the highest exposures in developing nations. Lead continues leaching from old paint, pipes and industrial sources into soils, homes and waterways across the globe. (3-8-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Overhaul of Middleton's zoning code includes bird-safe glass requirements
According to the new ordinance, buildings 10,000-square-feet or larger, facades 60-feet from the ground and sky bridges must be treated with a pattern of quarter-inch dots to prevent birds from colliding into buildings mid-flight. The new comprehensive plan also calls for promotion of biodiversity; officials said creating a rule to deter bird collisions is a step toward its ecological goal. (3-8-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Women in Construction Date Report Released
Only 10% of women comprise the construction workforce, with 4% working onsite. While 67% of the women surveyed reported that they integrated into the industry somewhat smoothly and 72% revealed there were plenty of opportunities for them to advance, 67% of the women raised concerns about the lack of gender-friendly and maternity-friendly safety equipment. This poses a major problem when keeping women feeling safe and wanting to continue working in the industry. (3-9-2024 | For Construction Pros)

Projects to Watch

Building Buzz: February 12 - 16

posted on 02.14.2024

We're reading the headlines so you don't have to.

From switching from hard hats to safety helmet, a 1,300-unit development in Duluth, and MSP among 114 airports receiving federal grant money for terminal improvements, here's what was buzzing in the building world the week of February 12 - 16, 2024:


Construction Leaders Recognizing & Responding to the Opioid Crisis
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) began expressing concern about opioids to its members in 2015-2016. The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC) Spring 2018 edition of TAUC's Construction User magazine was devoted to the opioid issue with the theme "Confronting the Opioid Crisis: What Contractors Can do Today." The industry leaders highlighted in this article were among the earliest to recognize the need to address opioids in the commercial and industrial sectors of the commercial industry. (2-12-2024 | For Construction Pros)

Developer revises Edina affordable-housing project after community pushback
The revisions reduced the height of the apartment building, added townhome units and removed a second phase of the project --- moves that cut the total number of units in the project from 141 to 89, according to city documents. The Minneapolis developer, Solhem Cos., will seek city feedback in a review this week. (2-12-2024 | Minneapolis / St Paul Business Journal)

First stone-built temple in Middle East avoid modern architecture
Pink sandstone spires decorated with deities and the pious soar above what was once a barren patch of desert between Abu Dhabi and Dubai --- now the site of the first stone-constructed Hindu temple in the Middle East. The soon-to-be open BAPS Hindu Mandir signals how far the United Arab Emirates has come in acknowledging the different faiths of its expatriate community, long dominated by Indians across construction sites and boardrooms. The temple nods back in its seven spires, the number of sheikdoms in this autocratic federation on the Arabian Peninsula. (2-12-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

FPC Live will break ground on Milwaukee music venue in the spring
In November, the Common Council unanimously approved plans for the 4,500-person venue at 1051 North Vel R. Phillips Avenue. FPC Live, an affiliate of Live Nation, originally had plans for two separate venues for $50-million but amended to make one instead. Miron Construction is the general contractor for the project, having recently submitted requests to construct the foundation and footings for $33.9-million, according to an application. The parcel area is around 252,666-square-feet and crews will build a three-story building, city records showed. The project work area will be around 83,750-square-feet. (2-12-2024 | The Daily Reporter)

Health care, housing drive development in Maple Grove
The year ahead looks bright for development in Plymouth, with a major redevelopment of the former Prudential office campus on Bass Lake Road set to break ground this spring and several mixed-use projects proposed or under construction along Highways 55 and 169. (2-12-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

To address traumatic brain injuries, Boldt switches from hard hats to helmets
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths related to brain injuries made up 25% of construction fatalities from 2003 to 2010. Construction has the greatest number of both fatal and nonfatal work-related TBIs in the U.S., federal officials added. (2-12-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

ADUs increasingly allowed but infrequently built
Edina could soon become the latest Twin Cities suburb to allow accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. The Edina Planning Commission and City Council will hold public hearings on the matter early this year, with a possible City Council vote to follow. Despite the apparent popularity, ADUs remain relatively uncommon in to the metro area. Eagan, one of the first metro cities to legalize ADUs in 2014, has just three. Richfield, which legalized ADUs in 2017, likely has fewer than 10. Minneapolis has by far the most of any metro city, but its number is still comparatively low: 232 as of early last year, representing fewer than 1% of eligible properties. The region has relatively few ADUs because they're expensive to build and because many municipal ADU ordinances restrict their size, features, building materials, and permitted uses. (2-13-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Delayed by COVID, Milwaukee affordable housing development breaks ground
The project is a five-story, 55-unit building with 7,500-square-feet of retail space on the first floor at North Dr. Martin Luther King Drive between West Concordia and West Keefe avenues. Milwaukee-based Martin Luther King Economic Development Corp. (MLKEDC) and Wauwatosa-based KG Development together unveiled and launched the project, with the help of federal and local funding. Crews from The Sigma Group will perform site work and Catalyst Construction will be responsible for construction management. (2-13-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Duluth Council grants TIF to first phase of 1,300-unit development
The TIF district that received a nod of approval was for the first phase of the development. This phase, said ICS Managing Partner Jeff Schiltz, will be made up of two 60-unit condominium buildings, as well as a market rate 220-unit apartment building. The multi-phase development, the proposed Incline Village, will be developed on a former Duluth high school site at 802 East Central Entrance and it could significantly boost the available housing in the city. (2-13-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Greiner Construction gets new CEO, becomes largest minority-owned business in metro
Greiner Construction has a new CEO and majority owner, and that change makes it the largest minority-owned business in the Twin Cities. Josh Helegesen took over the helm of the Minneapolis-based construction company earlier this year, after serving in various positions with the firm since 2001. Helgesen replaces Hans Siefker, who served as the company's second CEO for over 10 years. (2-13-2024 | Minneapolis - St Paul Business Journal)

Revised Milwaukee music venue to begin construction in April
In November, the Common Council unanimously approved plans for the venue at 1051 North Vel R. Phillips Avenue. FPC Live, an affiliate of Live Nation, originally had plans for two separate venues for $50-million but amended to make one instead. Promoters said the original project was hit by rising construction costs and interest rates; the amended project will cost around $60-million. Now, the promoter is on a timeline to break ground in April and launch full construction in May. Previously, officials said construction will take place on a 18-month timeline and wrap up in 2025. (2-13-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Bloomington looks to spur more deeply affordable units
Bloomington Housing Development Specialist Kenny Niemeyer said the intention of the Opportunity Housing Ordinance, or OHO, is to meet or exceed the Metropolitan Council's affordable housing goals for Bloomington. He said the goal has been exceeded for number of needed 60% AMI units. For 50% AMI units, the city is about halfway to its goal. For 30% AMI, Bloomington needs 445 units by 2030 but currently only has 32 units under construction. (2-14-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Highway 10 expansion up for comment
The project will address deficiencies and accommodate future development and redevelopment in the area, according to an Environmental Assessment Worksheet released by MnDOT. The meeting is set for March 14 and will discuss the highway's expansion in Wadena and Otter Tail counties. (2-14-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Mayo Clinic's Rochester expansion so big, even building permits cost $22 million
The Post Bulletin has a report on how Mayo's "Bold. Forward. Unbound. in Rochester" initiative is already impacting the city even though the project has barely left the ground. With a project this size --- the health care giant's plans will include 2.4--million-square-feet of space and stretch over years --- pretty much all the impacts are big. (2-14-2024 | Minneapolis / St Paul Business Journal)

Minnetonka rejects plans for single-family homes, condos
Minnetonka-based Lake West Development had put forward revised proposals for different parts of the city; one of them for two 20-unit condominium buildings and another for 14 single-family home lots. Both of the proposals were shut down after the council largely argued that the developments did not meet the requirements for rezoning or variance approvals, including for tree removal. (2-14-2024 | Minneapolis / St Paul Business Journal)

Project receives environmental OK in Hastings
The city recently determined that Land REquity Development's proposed 511-unit Walden at Hastings project does not need an Environmental Impact Statement. An EIS is required when a project is deemed to have significant adverse impacts on the environment. The 71.1-acre development site is just east of Highway 316 and Michael Avenue in Hastings. Included in the plans are single family, twin home, townhome, apartments and senior housing. About 17.5-acres of natural areas will be reserved. (2-14-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Vintage Duluth school reopens as apartments
Saturday Properties, working with Kraus-Anderson on construction and AWH Architects on design, developed the $34.9-million adaptive reuse project, which created 122 apartments within the well-preserved bones of Historic Old Central High School. Construction began in May 2022 and wrapped up in January. Now known as Zenith DCHS, the building is about 50% leased. (2-14-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Wisconsin lawmakers want parking structure inspections after collapse
Lawmakers are making a bipartisan proposal to require owners to inspect parking structures every five years or else face fines, following a parking garage's partial collapse at the Bayshore Town Center in Glendale one year ago. The drafted rules would require parking structure owners to work with engineers and inspect their garages every five years; bridges across the state are inspected every two to four years. They hope to have the proposal numbered and voted on before the end of the legislative session next month. (2-14-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Asset preservation takes early bonding spotlight
Up for review at the meeting was Gov. Tim Walz's $982-million bonding recommendation, also known as the 2024 Infrastructure Plan, which includes $441-million for asset preservation --- 45% of the total package. The asset preservation line item addresses needs at state buildings and college campuses throughout Minnesota. Most of it would go to the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State University systems ($103-million each) and state agencies ($224-million). (2-15-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport adding gates to Terminal 2 with $20M federal grant
The $20-million grant was part of President Biden's 2021 bipartisan infrastructure deal, which awarded $5-billion to the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Terminals Program. The two new gates, which will become H15 and H16, will be located on the terminal's northern side, just past gates currently served by Southwest Airlines. Terminal 2 is MSP's smaller terminal and primarily services airlines such as Sun Country, Allegiant, Condor, Frontier, Icelandair, JetBlue and Southwest. (2-15-2024 | Minneapolis/St Paul Business Journal)

MSP among 114 airports receiving federal grants for terminal improvements
The Biden administration said it is providing $970-million for improvements at 114 airports around the country, with work ranging from wider concourses and new baggage-handling systems to new terminals at some small airfields. Administration officials said the money comes from a $5-billion grant program to modernize airport terminals. Four airports in Minnesota are set to receive funding this year to improve terminals. Bemidji Regional Airport will get $261,250; Two Harbors Municipal Airport will receive $1.14-million; Duluth International Airport will get $10-million; and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will receive $20-million. (2-15-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Microsoft buys land for data center in Becker
This week, the technology giant with headquarters in Redmond, Washington, closed on a deal to pay $17.7-million in cash for the data center development site, a multi-parcel, 295-acre property at 125th Avenue and Southeast River Road in Becker, according to a certificate of real estate value made public. Xcel Energy, doing business as United Power and Land Co., is the seller. The property is adjacent to Xcel Energy's Sherco Coal Plant, which will be decommissioned by 2030. Project detail and a construction timeline remain somewhat of a mystery. (2-16-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Report suggests industrial market bouncing back
The two reports, one on the national performance of the industrial market and one on the local Twin Cities performance, indicated that the market showed the beginnings of a bounce-back after three quarters hampered by high interest rates. The Minneapolis report highlights the Eagle Realty Group's purchase of a four-building portfolio, a recapitalization deal made alongside Capital Partners in late October. It also points to the $33-million price tag for an Arden Hills warehouse that was bought by Altus. (2-16-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Projects to Watch

Building Buzz: February 5 - 9

posted on 02.07.2024

We're reading the headlines so you don't have to.

From buildings undergoing adaptive reuse transformations and mass timber to modernizing U.S. electricity transmissions to a music venue breaking ground in Milwaukee, here's what was buzzing in the building world from the week of February 5 - 9, 2024:


Church-to-treatment cent project up for approval in St. Cloud
Nelson Construction and Development, working with Ascension Recovery Services, wants to rehab the 15,303-square-foot church at 302 Fifth Avenue South and turn it into a 48-bed inpatient and outpatient center for treatment of substance abuse, anxiety, and depression. Built in the 1960s, the building has been vacant since 2013, when the First United Methodist Church relocated after 50 years of holding services there. The building has an assessed value of $208,000, according to Stearns County property records. (2-5-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Comcast Minnesota broadband expansion includes Corcoran, Cologne, Nowthen
Philadelphia-based Comcast said it is expanding service in Corcoran, Cologne, Nowthen and parts of Grant, Hugo, Rogers, and Stillwater Township. The expansion is part of Comcast's broader statewide initiative that has seen about $473-million investment across Minnesota over the past three years. The latest expansion is receiving funding from Border-to-Border Broadband, Minnesota's grant program that funds internet expansion to unserved or underserved areas in the state. According to Corcoran's city website, the program gave Comcast $1.2-million for its expansion into Corcoran last fall. (2-5-2024 | Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal)

Engineers redesign California's piers to withstand bigger storms
More storms, rising seas and huge waves are taking their toll on California's iconic piers that have dotted the Pacific coast since the Gold Rush, posing the biggest threat yet to the beach landmarks that have become a quintessential part of the landscape. At least a half dozen public piers are closed after being damaged repeatedly by storms with multiple atmosphere rivers hitting the state over the past year. Repair costs have climbed into the millions of dollars. (2-5-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Metro council receives request for hyperloop study, connecting Twin Cities and Rochester
The non-profit Global Wellness Connections is petitioning for $2.5-million to conduct a study on the feasibility of a "hyperloop" project between Rochester and Bloomington. The project would exist nearly entirely underground, keeping farms and rural communities unburdened by the hypothetical infrastructure. (2-5-2024 | KAALTV - ABC 6 News)

Redevelopment of former Minneapolis church stalls in face of lawsuit, 2040 plan uncertainty
The city of Minneapolis and the project's developers --- an entity called Beard Manager LLC --- are fighting a lawsuit brought by a neighboring property owner, Dan Murphy, who's arguing the city erred in granting approvals for the project. The project at the heart of the lawsuit is located at the site of the former Lake Harriet Christian Church, at 5009 South Beard Avenue, which is just a few blocks east of the 50th and France shopping district. The project would replace the church with a 5-story, 63-unit apartment building and 1,500-square-feet of commercial space. (2-5-2024 | Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal)

Wisconsin program turns office space into affordable housing
Lincoln Avenue Capital proposed building a 203-unit affordable housing complex in the footprint of two office buildings at 250 and 350 Bishops Way. It's one of three projects that will get $1-million each, or 20% of the cost, to turn vacant commercial buildings into affordable housing. The developer purchased a 3.7-acre parcel from the Wisconsin Robinson Family, according to the land sale deed. The project is set to break ground this year, Brookfield officials said. (2-5-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Former Model-T factory on St. Paul's University Avenue is demolished
The Pioneer Press has a report on the end of 117 University Avenue West, which was built in 1914 to assemble Ford's Model-Ts, the factory assembled as many as 500 cars per day at one point, before the work shifted to Ford's Highland Park plant in the 1920s. The property, which is close to the State Capitol and a Green Line light rail station, will be converted to green space as part of a project led by the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board. (2-6-2024 | Minneapolis-St Paul Business Journal)

Historic Lutsen Lodge to be rebuilt following fire
The fire at the Lutsen Lodge was reported around 12:30am. The only staffer on duty spotted smoke coming from electrical outlets in the floor in the lobby and called 911. The employee made it out safely. No guests were checked in because it was early in the week. The building was fully engulfed as crews from eight departments battled the blaze. The state fire marshall's office was investigating, but the cause could not be immediately determined. Lutsen's manager quickly pledged the lodge would be rebuilt in the same design. (2-6-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Kraus-Anderson buys Phoenix construction company
The acquisition expands the Minneapolis company's growth in the southwest U.S. and is the first acquisition of another company in KA Constructions 126-year history, according to a press release. Founded 20 years ago, Phoenix-based Sonoran Crest Construction has an "established healthcare presence," KA said. (2-6-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Lake Bronson dam project on track for bids in January
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has completed one of the final phases required prior to bidding out the Lake Bronson Dam reconstruction. The DNR's next step while the project is out for bids is to complete the permitting needed for the project. They will need a few permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers --- sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act, which pertain to water quality and dredging and fill material placed within wetlands for construction; a permit regarding endangered species; in conjunction with the SHPO office, a permit regarding historic properties. The DNR may also need to get permitting from Kittson County regarding right of way on CSAH 28, which runs over the dam and from FEMA for flood plain mapping revisions. (2-6-2024 | Kittson County Enterprise)

Mass timber products gain momentum in building industry
Wood requires the least amount of energy to produce in comparison to other building materials such as steel and concrete; it's also renewable and sequesters carbon. The carbon dioxide in the air is extracted and carbon is transformed and stored in the wood fiver, taking a greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere. Engineered wood products include cross-laminated timber (CLT), laminated veneer lumber, glue-laminated lumber (glulam), dowel-laminated timber (DLT) and nail-laminated timber (NLT). (2-6-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Shifting attitudes towards sustainability facilitate industry changes
The built environment generates more than 40% of annual carbon emissions. According to Chicago-based McKinsey & Co., that puts the industries responsible, developers and builders of residential and commercial buildings as well as infrastructure, among the highest producers of carbon emissions --- more than shipping, aviation and producing electricity. But shifting attitudes around the topic of sustainability are providing an opportunity for change. As one of the world's largest, global design and architecture firm Gensler is helping lead that charge. And so far, it seems to be working. (2-6-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Trident pitches 128-unit apartment project in Apple Valley
Apple Valley's Planning Commission will review a pitch from St. Cloud-based Trident Development for the proposed 4-story building on the 5-acres site at the northwest corner of English Avenue and 157th Street West. Plans for the site have "evolved over time" in response to changing market conditions. Previous master plans showed future retail development at the Trident site, as well. Specifically, a 2017 plan called for a "big box retail center" there. In 2019, the plan was revised to show two "medium-sized" retail buildings. (2-6-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Uncertainty plagues venue construction for 2026 Olympics
An all-new 15,000-seat hockey arena that's supposed to welcome back NHL players to the Olympics for the first time in more than a decade is a giant construction pit. The 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics start exactly two years from February 6, 2024, and it still seems like there are more questions than answers for a complicated games that will be staged across a large swath of northern Italy spread over five different venue clusters. (2-6-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Plymouth advances plan for 330 apartments
The City Council authorized a comprehensive plan amendment and other approvals for Dietrich's proposed 330-unit Highway 55 Apartments building, which would rise on a site framed by Highway 55, South Shore Drive and Revere Lane North. The project, which also includes up to 10,600-square-feet of retail space and 12 townhome units, won unanimous support from the council, despite a smattering of concerns from neighbors. (2-7-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

US to invest $1.2B to expand and modernize electricity transmission
The US DOE has announced an investment of $1.2-billion to expedite the construction of large-scale transmission lines. The initiative aims to address the financial barriers hindering the development of new and upgraded transmission lines. The DOE expects to provide the $1.2-billion investment through federal support under the RFP. (2-7-2024 | Power Technology)

BAE Systems coming to Maple Grove in 'Project Libre'
The warehouse project, which has been ground through the city's approval process under the name "Project Libre," will bring 248,000-square-feet of manufacturing, warehouse, office and research and development space to a 30-acre site at Interstate 94 and Highway 169. The Maple Grove City Council is expected to review a $600,000 TIF request next month for soil correction work at the project site. Soil correction needs stem from the site's historical use as a gravel mining operation. (2-8-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Use it or lose it: South Dakota rushing to invest $700M on water projects
South Dakota lawmakers, state agency leaders and water system managers are hustling to spend roughly $700-million in COVID-era funding on water and sewer projects before the federal government claws it back. They money was part of the American Rescue Plan (ARPA), a $1.9-trillion aid package Congress and the Biden administration passed in 2021 to help states recover from the pandemic. ARPA rules require states to allocate all the funds by the end of this year and spend it by the end of 2026 or ship it back to Washington for possible usage by other states. (2-8-2024 | South Dakota News Watch)

Josh Helgesen takes over as Greiner's president and CEO
Helgesen joined Greiner in 2001 as an apprentice carpenter. Through the years, he has "demonstrated remarkable leadership, dedication, and an unwavering commitment to our company's values. His ascent to this role is a testament to his exceptional drive and the invaluable contributions he has made to Greiner's success," the company said in a new release. (2-9-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Madison cultural center could break ground in spring
Known as The Center, the nonprofit proposed a three-story, 37,000-square-foot cultural center on a 3.5-acre lot at the 700 block of West Badger Road. In October, officials said they had $3-mollion left to raise before an expected groundbreaking in spring. The Center hopes to pen in the fall of 2025 after construction is completed. The building will have a multi-purpose theater, coworking space, recording studio, art production space and spaces for both youth and seniors, according to the project webpage. (2-9-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

State fields design proposals for $48M crime lab in Mankato
State officials are seeking design services for what they call a "state-of-the-art criminal investigation and laboratory" facility in Mankato. The proposed 44,000-square-foot building is funded through design, but the project still needs construction money from the Legislature. (2-9-2024 | Finance & Commerce)

Construction Leaders Recognizing & Responding to the Opioid Crisis
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) began expressing concern about opioids to its members in 2015-2016. The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC) Spring 2018 edition of TAUC's Construction User magazine was devoted to the opioid issue with the theme "Confronting the Opioid Crisis: What Contractors Can do Today." The industry leaders highlighted in this article were among the earliest to recognize the need to address opioids in the commercial and industrial sectors of the commercial industry. (2-12-2024 | For Construction Pros)

FPC Live will break ground on Milwaukee music venue in the spring
In November, the Common Council unanimously approved plans for the 4,500-person venue at 1051 North Vel R. Phillips Avenue. FPC Live, an affiliate of Live Nation, originally had plans for two separate venues for $50-million but amended to make one instead. Miron Construction is the general contractor for the project, having recently submitted requests to construct the foundation and footings for $33.9-million, according to an application. The parcel area is around 252,666-square-feet and crews will build a three-story building, city records showed. The project work area will be around 83,750-square-feet. (2-12-2024 | The Daily Reporter)

Projects to Watch

Building Buzz: January 15 - 19

posted on 01.22.2024

We're reading the headlines so you don't have to.

From OSHA civil penalty increases, economic signals to watch for in 2024, to new projects in development and/or under construction, here's what was buzzing in the building world from the week of January 15-19, 2024:


Industrial development planned for Rogers
Three new industrial warehouses may be coming to Rogers, as West Development has plans to build a new development, according to public documents. As detailed in an environmental assessment worksheet, the location of the development would be near the intersection of 147th Avenue and State Highway 101 in Rogers. The plat of land does not have an assigned address and is valued at %5.45-million, according to Hennepin County tax information. The land sits in the northwest submarket of the Twin Cities metro and would back up to the Crow River. It is owned by the Edina-based Schmidt Crow LLC.  (12-27-2023  |  Finance & Commerce)

JANUARY 12, 2024
Kowalski's buys site of future store near Ridgedale
Kowalski's had paid $4.9-million in cash for a former Sears auto repair property in Minnetonka, the site of its future grocery store near Ridgedale Mall and the new Dick's House of Sports. The grocer purchased the property from Ridgedale TRS Sub LLC, an entity related to Ridgedale Mall owner Brookfield Properties Retail of Chicago, according to a certificate of real estate value made public. Located at the 12439 Wayzata Boulevard, the property has an estimated value of $8-million for tax purposes, according to Hennepin County records. (1-12-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

Not all carbon-capture projects are created equal
Capturing carbon dioxide from the air or industries and recycling it can sound like a win-win climate solution. The greenhouse gas stays out of the atmosphere where it can warm the planet, and it avoids the use of more fossil fuels. But not all carbon-capture projects offer the same economic and environmental benefits. In fact, some can actually worsen climate change. (1-12-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

OSHA and MSHA civil penalty amounts get annual bump
OSHA's maximum penalties for willful or repeat violations will be increasing approximately 3.2%. The 2024 increases --- to $161,323 from $156,259 in 2023 -- are legally mandated by January 15th each year under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. Because January 15th is a federal holiday, this year's changes will be effective starting January 16th. (1-12-2024  |  Safety and Health Magazine)

Q & A: Rochester Destination Medical Center effort at its half-way point
The Destination Medical Center is the largest private-public partnership in the state of Minnesota. At its core, the initiative is a promise between the city of Rochester and the Mayo Clinic, the state's largest employer. It was a promise formulated as a 20-year project back in 2014, meaning the partnership is at its midway point. (1-12-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

Sustainability rules move forward for Milwaukee County Projects
Milwaukee County will add a climate scoring system into its annual budget cycle criteria for building projects. The county Capital Improvements Committee (CIC) voted 6 - 1 to approve a scoring system that measured reduced emissions, improved climate resiliency for buildings and co-benefits such as workforce development plans and disaster preparation. The scoring system will be added to existing criteria the county uses when assessing capital projects. (1-12-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

JANUARY 15, 2024
Building codes and reliable infrastructure help prevent snowstorm disasters
Winter storms can easily become billion-dollar disasters as the snow piles up on interstates and collapses roofs and power lines. Yet, while cancelled flights and business interruptions can't be avoided, what turns a snowstorm into a disaster often can be. One snowflake at a time, wet snow can pile up to a weight of 30-pounds per cubic foot on a rooftop --- enough to collapse a structure that is too light or not well designed. Although roof collapses are relatively rare, they are expensive and can take months to repair. (1-15-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

Conflict in Red Sea inflating shipping rates
Since December, global media have reported attacks --- at the Red Sea's southern end --- on commercial ships launched by Yemen's Houthi group. The risk of piracy has caused shipping companies to avoid the route, which involves utilization of Egypt's Suex Canal on the Red Sea's northern end. Crude petroleum input prices were down 13.2%, while unprocessed energy materials were down 9.1%. Natural gas prices rose 1.5% in December. Overall construction input prices are 1.2% higher than a year ago, while non-residential construction input prices are 1.6% higher. (1-15-2024  |  Construction Briefing)

Minnesota at the forefront of diversity in engineering
Minnesota has been a leader in the effort to attract more women and people of color to the engineering and design services industry --- and that's good news as firms struggle to fill open positions, a prominent voice of the industry says. Jonathan Curry, executive director of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies, shares thoughts of a recent DEI&B survey, which shows that engineering firms have room for growth when it comes to diversity. The "Diversity Roadmap" survey from ACEC's Research Institute, conducted last summer, attracted responses from nearly 200 ACEC member firms. (1-15-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

Year ahead looks bright for development in Plymouth
Housing construction activity in Minnesota's busiest markets plunged last year, with housing permits down 40% across the 13-county metro plus Rochester. Other sectors were down too, beset by high interest rates and rising construction costs. Plymouth bucked this trend. The city permitted 137 new single-family homes in 2023, up from 99 in 2022. It approved two new multi-family communities last year after green-lighting none in 2022. 2024 is shaping up to be an even bigger year for development activity in Plymouth. (1-15-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

JANUARY 16, 2024
Ahead of legislative session, Walz pitches $982-million in public construction projects
Governor Tim Walz rolled out his $982-million plan for public construction projects, a package that spans from prison fixups to dedicated busway expansions to projects that better connect Minnesotans to their natural resources. He emphasized the ongoing need to fund the construction and maintenance projects. Projects on his list also ranged from wastewater treatment plant replacements to ice rinks to flood mitigation. (1-16-2024  |  Minnesota Public Radio - MPR)

Backlog increases amid easing credit conditions
Construction backlog ticked up in December to 8.6 months due to improving financing availability, according to a release from Associated Builders and Contractors. The metric is still rebounding from a backlog level of 8.4 months in October, its lowest point since the first quarter of 2022, according to ABC. The December increase, however, has sparked some confidence among contractors, due to two consecutive months now of backlog growth. (1-16-2024  |  Construction Dive)

Construction input prices drop 3 months in a row
Construction input prices fell 0.6% in December largely due to plunging oil prices, according to a new Associated Builders and Contractors' analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index released January 12. The decrease marks three consecutive months of price moderation, though volatility still remains in the cards, said Anirban Basu, ABC chief economist. Overall construction costs remain 1.2% higher than a year ago, while nonresidential construction input prices are 1.6% pricier. (1-16-2024  |  Construction Dive)

David Mortenson on Twin Cities construction: More cranes are good, fewer are bad - but it's complicated
David Mortenson's key economic indicator in construction is typically this: More cranes on the skyline are good, fewer are bad. But it's been a bit more complicated than that. Mortenson, chairman of Golden Valley-based M.A. Mortenson Co. --- one of the largest construction firms in the nation --- shared his outlook for the U.S. construction industry at a conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. (1-16-2024  |  Minneapolis-St Paul Business Journal)

Economists highlight 3 major economic signals to watch in 2024
As 2024 unfolds, economists and other experts in the financial and housing markets suggested a few major factors that could be turning points, good or bad, for the U.S. economy. Here are those three themes --- the possibility of a recession, consumer spending slowdown, and a housing rebound --- along with some observations on each of them. (1-16-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

Ramsey County OKs sale of TCAAP outlot in Arden Hills to Ryan Cos.
The board unanimously approved the purchase and sale agreement with Ryan for an outlot, known as Outlot A, of Rice Creek Commons, the name of the redevelopment site for the 427-acre former TCAAP.  Ryan's plan for the site is a build-to-suit property accommodating 400,000 to 600,000-square-feet, according to a county press release. This could include a corporate campus, life sciences offices, a research and development center, or manufacturing and distribution facilities. It's also expected the plan would include on-site retail and restaurant space.  (1-16-2024  |  Minneapolis-St Paul Business Journal)

Slumberland outlet to become early education center
Oakdale-based Slumberland Furniture is slashing prices even more than usual at its St. Louis Park Clearance Outlet as it prepares for a new owner to redevelop it into a Spanish immersion early education center. Edina-based TOLD Development paid the furniture retailer $2.6-million for the store at 4140 Excelsior Boulevard. (1-16-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

JANUARY 17, 2024
Construction experts suggest being proactive with ESG policies
As employees, tenants and investors give more consideration to a business's environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, construction and real estate companies need to be proactive with their strategies and policies, according to industry experts. Traction for ESG concepts is increasing and the willingness of a business to embrace implementation can attract workers, tenants and customers while also providing long-term cost efficiencies. (1-17-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

Five construction tech innovations from CES 2024
The focus of this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) showcased ways artificial intelligence and other breakthrough technology can boost productivity while also reversing environmental impacts and future-proofing industries like construction and agriculture. (1-17-2024  |  Construction Dive)

McGough pitches senior apartments at Blooming Central Station
McGough Cos. is proposing to build a 164-unit senior apartment building at the Bloomington Central Station development near Mall of America. The proposal represents a further refinement to McGough's previously approved revision to bring three residential apartment buildings to the development in place of three proposed office towers. The plans for this building depart slightly from that approved plan, with fewer units and no retail. The previous plan called for 250- units and 6,000-square-feet of retail. (1-17-2024  |  Minneapolis-St Paul Business Journal)

McGough plans senior apartments at Bloomington Central Station
The multi-family senior housing proposal comes from McGough, a Roseville-based group that has played a significant role in developing the area around Bloomington Central Station. It would be at 3001 American Boulevard East and be five stories with 164 units. The adults McGough is targeting with the proposed development are "active senior-adults". The location of the development would be ideal for adults because of its proximity to the amenities offered by the area around Bloomington Central Station. The unique amenities for senior housing might include a golf simulator, a woodworking shop area and small gathering spaces for group activities. (1-17-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

Six trends that could shape US cities in 2024
Flying taxis, high-speed rail, emissions-free buildings and transportation" Some long-held dreams of urban futurists are moving forward in 2024. Cities also are taking advantage of increased federal funding and growing public sentiment to address some long-neglected issues, like the shortage of affordable housing and the impacts of climate change, especially on disadvantaged communities. At the same time, however, cities are confronting problems that stem from the pandemic: empty office buildings, hollowed-out downtowns and public transit systems hobbled by changes in commuting. In some cases, new technologies are providing new solutions; other new technologies, like generative AI, are cause for both optimism and caution by city leaders. (1-17-2024  |  Smart Cities Dive)

Study reveals asbestos exposure in construction
A research study has raised significant concerns about the dangers of asbestos exposure for workers in the construction industry. The study, published in the Annals of Work Exposures and Health, reveals that the installation and removal of asbestos cement products pose grave risks, with exposure levels far exceeding the occupational limited in the United States. Key findings of the study include: (1) When asbestos cement pipes are cut, the average exposure to asbestos is over 50 times higher than the short-term limit established by OSHA in the U.S., and (2) Asbestos cement products, including pipes, siding, and roofing, account for more than 90% of global asbestos use. (1-17-2024  |  For Construction Pros)

Summit Orthopedics plans 80,000-square-foot facility at Plymouth's Prudential site
The Woodbury-based health care company will be the sole tenant in a new two-story building on the northwest corner of the overall site, confirmed Dan Salzer, director of development for Indianapolis-based Scannell Properties, which is co-developing the site. Located on the corner of Interstate 94 and Bass Lake Road, the Prudential site is also being co-developed by Minnetonka-based Roers Cos. (1-17-2024  |  Minneapolis-St Paul Business Journal)

Upper Post Flats fina phase done
The final phase of the 192-unit Upper Post Flats, a $160-million development that turned landmark buildings at the Fort Snelling Upper Post into affordable housing, is complete after years of construction and planning. BKV Group, which designed the project for Dominium, sad the project is finished and "fully open to the public." Military members, veterans, first responders and their families get first priority in housing. The "below-market-rate rents" are designed to be affordable for households earning up to 60% of the area median income, BKV Group said. (1-17-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

Walz pitches $982-million infrastructure bonding plan
Governor Tim Walz proposed a $982-million public infrastructure plan that includes a new headquarters for the Minnesota State Patrol but focuses mostly on the unglamorous task of preserving existing buildings and facilities. The package, known as a bonding bill, will be a centerpiece of the governor's agenda for the 2024 legislative session, which convenes February 12. Walz said his plan would protect drinking water, improve roads and bridges, protect public safety and support safe housing. (1-17-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

JANUARY 18, 2024
330 apartment in Plymouth closer to construction
The Plymouth Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the project, which would also offer 12 rental townhomes and a 5,600-square-foot retail building with teh potential for adding another 5,000-square-feet, according to city documents. The vacant site is located on the north side of Highway 55 and along 10th Avenue North. The apartments, townhomes and retail space would be developed on separate newly created lots. (1-18-2024  |  Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal)

Cottage Grove OKs housing at 'gateway' to city
Roers Cos. has the final go-ahead from the Cottage Grove City Council to build a 144-unit mixed-income apartment building in the southeast metro suburb, a development that promises to boost the city's growing stock of affordable housing and enhance its architectural landscape. Given the site's high-profile location along Highway 61, the City Council urged Roers to go the extra mile on the aesthetics front. The resulting design --- which features a mix of stone, glass, specialty block and fiber cement exterior building materials --- got strong reviews from city officials. (1-18-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

DEED: Minnesota construction job growth outpaces nation
Minnesota's construction industry added 1,200 jobs from November to December and continues to outperform the nation as a whole in that sector, according to data released by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. In all, the state saw a net gain of 800 jobs during the past month, DEED said, adding that it was the sixth consecutive month of job growth. Leisure & Hospitality led all sectors with 1,800 jobs added, followed by Trade, Transportation & Utilities (1,500), Construction (1,200), Mining & Logging (300), and Financial Activities (100). In December, Minnesota's unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 2.9%, the U.S. rate remained at 3.7%. (1-18-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

Rapid City Council approves $147M water reclamation facility upgrade
In a major step to upgrade the city's water infrastructure, the Rapid City Council approved $147-million for a second phase of improvements at the Water Reclamation Facility South Plant. The second phase of the project focuses on constructing new reclamation and water waste treatment facilities and processes. It includes the addition of an aeration basin, two secondary clarifiers, a dewatering building, a pumping building and all necessary equipment. The project also aims to improve the resilience of the facilities with backup generators and alternative treatment options. Renovations and modifications to various parts of the existing facility are also planned. (1-18-2024  |  Rapid City Journal)

University of Minnesota weighs Williams Arena renovation or replacement
The Pioneer Press, citing university documents, reports that the U of M has hired Populous, a Kansas City-based architecture firm known for its work on sports facilities, for a feasibility study of "possible renovation to Williams Arena (and Maturi) Pavilion or consider new construction." Williams Arena was built in 1928 and has been the home of the Gophers basketball teams for decades. (It also hosted U of M hockey before the construction of Mariucci Arena in the 1990s.) The Populous study will include options for suites and other premium seating, as well as better access for fans in the arena's concourses and restrooms. The current study is just at the conceptual level, though the firm will work with Golden Valley-based Mortenson Co. to prove cost estimates as options. (1-18-2024  |  Minneapolis-St Paul Business Journal)

Wisconsin Senate approves bill to shorten commercial building reviews
The Wisconsin State Senate passed several bills that would alter how state and local government would review commercial building plans. Bill supporters promised they would eliminate delays in the commercial building process, while state inspectors said maintaining the current system was important to public health and safety. In 2022, lawmakers introduced a similar set of bills that would have exempted single story buildings with 100,000-square-feet and buildings with 24 plumbing fixtures or fewer from state review. (1-18-2024  |  Finance & Commerce)

2024 Projects to Watch: The Twin Cities CRE landscape will be reshaped by these 12 properties
It's no secret the commercial real estate market was a volatile one in 2023. But that won't keep some projects form moving ahead in 2024. The volatility is largely attributed to heightened interest rates, declining values and lack of available financing. But here's some renewed optimism for this year, after the Federal Reserve signaled that interest rates would be cut in 2024. Here's where some of the top properties in the Twin Cities stand and where they're headed in the year to come. (1-19-2024  |  Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal)

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