Strong Market Surrounding Stadium Could Lead to Multiple Projects on Land Owned by Wilf Family
The family that owns the Minnesota Vikings 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 Wilfs, a New Jersey family that made its fortune in home building, commercial and multifamily development on the East Coast.
The family is already in the midst of one large-scale development in the Twin Cities suburbs: Viking Lakes, which is an effort to build retail, office and 1,000 residential units on the 200 acres around the Vikings’ new corporate headquarters and practice facility in Eagan, MN.
However, until now the Wilfs haven’t attempted to capitalize on the burgeoning market that has sprung up around the stadium in Minneapolis proper.
If successful, the new tower will rise on a parking lot at 240 Park Ave. 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 a principal at the Wilf’s development business, Garden Homes.
The 0.8-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, where a multilevel parking deck is now, and roughly 0.9 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 a clear plan 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 in from 2006 to 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 most active there, Becker said, but the Wilfs are 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 or which segment of the rental market it will target.
However, Garden Homes generally 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 that plans for the rest of the parcels are still to be determined.