Building big: Kraus-Anderson set to wrap construction of largest off-campus student-housing development in Minnesota

the marshallby Dan Rafter

The Marshall, the new student-housing complex scheduled to open by the start of this academic year in Minneapolis’ Dinkytown neighborhood, is a big project.

How big? As John Solberg, a vice president with construction manager Kraus-Anderson Construction Company and lead project manager overseeing the complex’s construction, says, The Marshall will have 997 bathrooms alone.

“The sheer mass of this job is impressive,” Solberg said. “I mean, it has more than 990 bathrooms. Just think of all the corners that have to be taped by a dry waller. It can be hard to imagine or calculate just how much goes into a building of this size.”

Developed by owner/developer GEM Realty and EdR, The Marshall, once it begins accepting students from the nearby University of Minnesota, will rank as the largest off-campus student-housing complex ever built in the state of Minnesota. The 590,000-square-foot project will fill nearly one square block in the Dinkytown neighborhood, just two short blocks from the University of Minneapolis campus. The project includes 29,000 square feet of retail space, including a 16,000-square-foot Target Store anchoring one corner of The Marshall.

The project’s name comes from its location: It sits on land that was once occupied by Marshall High School. Construction crews began demolition of this shuttered high school in December of 2012. Once the high school was demolished — and that process included the time-consuming removal of asbestos — Kraus-Anderson was free to begin construction of The Marshall.

Today, despite the challenges that come with working in a crowded urban area, Kraus-Anderson is on schedule to complete the massive complex. Solberg says that most of the work remaining is interior construction, and that he is confident that the project will be ready for its student residents before fall classes begin at the University of Minnesota.

“We had a particularly challenging winter,” Solberg said. “That meant that we got off to a bit of a late start. There were also some soil challenges related to the demolition of the old high school. So we lost some time to that. We had to manage through those challenges. We are now dealing with all the rains that everyone else in Minneapolis is dealing with. But we’ve worked quickly despite these challenges. Our exterior construction is mostly done and we are happy with the pace we’ve been able to maintain.”

Once students arrive later this summer, they find a student-housing facility that will boast 316 units that look more like high-end apartments than traditional student-housing dorms. Each unit will feature granite counter tops, stainless-steel appliances and in-unit washers and dryers. Complex amenities include a fitness center, indoor pool, indoor basketball court, computer lab and underground parking for 300 vehicles.

These amenities and high-end finishes are important. They allow The Marshall to successfully compete for new student residents. New student-housing projects today can’t afford to offer only bare-bone amenities. If they do, university students will simply choose other living options that provide them with more features and on-site goodies.

But what’s equally as important as the indoor pool and fitness center is the sense of community that GEM Realty and EdR are striving to create at The Marshall.

The Marshall is made up of several buildings connected to each other and surrounding three interior open-air plazas. Some of these buildings are adjacent to each other. Others are connected by skyways at each floor.

“These buildings are well-connected. You can connect with friends in another building without ever going outside,” Solberg said. “You can meet friends on the plaza on the west side of the site with the terraces or the plaza in the middle with the volleyball courts. Or you can just meet inside and go to the pool or fitness facility. We think that is pretty interesting.”

Dotted throughout The Marshall and overlooking both the street and the project’s open-air plazas are several outdoor balconies. These balconies create an airier feel to the massive project. They also help connect it to the busy Dinkytown neighborhood, a busy community filled with shops, restaurants and night-life options.

“This has certainly been an interesting project,” Solberg said. “I think we’ve created something special here, and I know that the students will appreciate this project.”

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