Credit: Rendering by ESG Architects

Credit: Rendering by ESG Architects

Four Seasons in talks to anchor Nicollet Hotel Block tower

Updated: April 13, 2016 - 11:23 am

United Properties has refocused its Gateway tower toward luxury users in its latest plans.

United Properties is in talks with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts to anchor its 35-story hotel and apartment tower on the north end of Nicollet Mall.

Bill Katter, president and chief investment officer of the Bloomington-based developer, unveiled new concepts of their Gateway development planned for the Nicollet Hotel Block at Washington & Nicollet. United Properties and partners have refocused the tower toward luxury users with a five-star hotel and luxury apartments, increasing development costs to $260 million, up from $161 million.

Katter said the project, if executed, would bring activity, jobs and excitement to the Gateway District near the downtown Minneapolis riverfront.

“It’s a game-changer for the north end of the Nicollet Mall,” Katter said.

New plans for The Gateway call for an approximately 530-foot tower with 164 luxury apartments and a 300-room hotel. The skyway-connected project would have about 18,000 square feet of retail, including a 7,500-square-foot space for a “world-class” restaurant to pair with the hotel.

While Four Seasons hasn’t committed to the project, Katter said they have been talks with the Canadian company for the past few months to anchor the tower. The project would be the first five-star hotel in the Twin Cities market, and the company’s second branded location in the Midwest after Chicago.

Katter said a Four Seasons hotel is “truly a hallmark of a vibrant, successful city.”

“We think that it’s time that Minneapolis-St. Paul has this brand here,” he said.

United Properties has been tailoring the project to attract a high-end hotel. The tower plans now feature a 10,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art ballroom for the hotel. Texas-based JMI Realty, a luxury hotel developer, is United Properties’ hotel partner.

“There’s no ballroom in Minneapolis right now that is as cool as what we’re trying to promote here,” said Aaron Roseth, principal with ESG Architects, which is designing the project.

Another important point for the hotel is the tower’s skyway connection over 3rd Street to the Minneapolis Central Library, which is designed to accept skyway connections. While the building isn’t connected to the skyway system yet, Opus Group’s Ritz Block development on the other side of Nicollet may offer a connection.

An 18,000-square-foot deck has been enhanced from previous designs to include indoor and outdoor pools. Both hotel guests and apartment residents could use an outdoor terrace overlooking 3rd & Nicollet.

The other part of the project is 164 units of luxury apartments. Gary Wallace, managing director of Charleston, S.C.-based Greystar, the developer’s new housing partner, said the high-end units would average about 1,700 square feet and estimated rents would be more than $3 per square foot. The top two floors of the tower would have penthouse units.

Wallace described the units as “condo-esque” with luxury finishes currently unavailable in the Minneapolis rental market. The hotel is driving the change in apartments, which Wallace said he expects to be “best in class” to match.

“This will be the ultimate luxury product that’s presented to Minneapolis in terms of apartments,” Roseth said.

Wallace said the units would target empty nesters downsizing from their homes.

Greystar is the largest property manager of multifamily apartments in the country. The company manages about 3,400 units in Minneapolis, including Junction Flats in the North Loop, which it owns.

The Gateway would be 530 feet tall thanks to an LED-lit architectural spire that Roseth estimated is about 100 feet tall. The tower would be the eighth-tallest building in Minneapolis and have unobstructed views of the Mississippi River.

The Gateway would have three underground parking levels with a combined 575 spaces, up from two levels.

United Properties is planning the full-block development to eventually accept a proposed Nicollet-Central Corridor streetcar line, which would bisect the parcel. Outside the tower, street infrastructure and green spaces are meant to connect to Cancer Survivors Park across Nicollet. The design team said they’re also working with the City of Minneapolis to integrate the building into the overhaul of Nicollet Mall.

Previous plans for the tower have shown a fluctuation in height from 33-36 stories. The newest plans also shift away from more “mainstream” users, such as with the originally proposed Canopy by Hilton Hotel and several hundred apartments, Katter said.

Last February, United Properties’ original plan beat out three other proposals from other developers to win exclusive negotiations rights for what Ward 3 Council Member Jacob Frey says is “arguably the sexiest parcel” in Minneapolis. The site is named for the former 12-story Nicollet Hotel, which was built on the parcel in 1924 and demolished in 1991. The City Council approved the $10.4 million sale of the land in January though council members added a contingency so that the project’s final design meets expectations for an iconic development.

Katter said they plan to break ground sometime between the end of 2017 and the spring of 2018. The project would take 30-36 months to build.