Mark Fischenich

The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Construction should begin in August on the city’s first office tower, the first major privately-financed office building to rise downtown in more than four decades and the largest downtown development project in nearly two decades ago.

The South Front Street redevelopment, which will include a seven-story glass office tower and a four-story mixed-use building, is on the verge of final city approval following a meeting Monday night of the Mankato City Council, acting as the city Economic Development Authority.

The city, with assistance from a state grant, is largely financing a $4.9 million parking ramp and surface lot to serve the complex, and the EDA indicated support for tax-increment financing to cover much of the city’s share. Including the ramp, the entire project is expected to total between $15 million and $16 million.

“It’s the biggest development we’ve had downtown since the civic center,” said 14-year Councilman Jack Considine of the arena built in 1995. “It’s a block of town that certainly needs to be upgraded.”

Mankato-based developer Tailwind Group will lease space to Profinium Financial, bringing between 41 and 46 new jobs to the city center. Several existing Mankato businesses — including Abdo, Eick and Meyers; Paulsen Architects; and Bark.L Engineering — are expected to relocate to the complex, allowing for the retention of about 100 other jobs, according to city documents.

The office tower will be built on the corner of Riverfront Drive and Warren Street, and a second five-story building will be built along South Front Street on the site currently occupied by buildings housing Miller Motors and the Red Sky Lounge, which will be razed. Miller Motors is moving to a new location and Red Sky is expected to locate in the first floor of the new building, which will also feature 15 upscale apartments, according to Tailwind.

With parking already tight on the block, which is home to a number of bars and restaurants, the parking ramp and a new surface lot across Front Street will add 168 stalls. The ramp will be largely dedicated to office workers during the day but will be open to public parking in the evening and on weekends.

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