Tenants flocking to newly renovated RBC Plaza in downtown Minneapolis

rbc plaza3by Dan Rafter

KBS Capital Advisors took a risk earlier this year when they approved plans to merge two key buildings on the Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. Today, though, that risk is paying off as new tenants continue to sign on at the newly renovated RBC Plaza.

Two law firms, equity and investment firms, a network communications company and three retailers have all signed on to lease space at the office and retail center at 60 S. 6th St. in downtown. The new companies account for 125,000 square feet of new leases at RBC Plaza.

Sonja Dusil, senior director of brokerage services for Cushman & Wakefield|NOrthMarq — the brokerage that represents the building — says that she isn’t surprised by this activity. The northern end of Minneapolis’ Nicollet Mall area is busy today, with construction taking place on the new home of the Minnesota Vikings and with Target Field — home of the Minnesota Twins — still a major attraction.

The area is also home to the new Target Field Station light-rail train station and the newly built Nic on Fifth luxury apartments

So plenty is happening in the Nicollet Mall area to attract retailers and office tenants, Dusil said.

“There is a pull toward the north end of the mall,” Dusil said. “We truly are in the center of that live-work-play environment that people want today. There is activity and vibrancy in the mall. That enhances our building, too.”

A big change

What is now RBC Plaza was once two separate buildings. There was the four-story 68,700-square-foot retail building Gaviidae Common II at 555 Nicollet Mall. And next store was the 40-story RBC Plaza office tower.

But in January of this year, construction crews began the process of merging the two buildings into one central RBC Plaza site.

Crews converted the third and fourth floors of the former Gaviidae II space, which previously served as a food court, to 60,000 square feet of contiguous office space. Each 30,000-square-foot floor today offers 16-foot ceilings and expanded windows facing Nicollet Mall and 6th Street.

The first floor of the former Gaviidae II space merged with the existing lobby of the RBC Plaza. That lobby today is large and spacious.

Construction also brought a new amenities package to the new RBC Plaza, one that includes a conference center, fitness center and break-out areas on the lower level and main lobby for casual meetings.

The new tenants will begin occupying their space in the building — owned by KBS REIT III and operated by KBS Capital Advisors — before this month ends.

One of the key moves at the building is the expansion of intellectual property and litigation law firm Fish & Richardson, a current tenant that will occupy the entire fourth floor of the plaza. That will boost the amount of space that the firm is leasing from 50,000 square feet to 80,000 square feet. The firm is expected to move into the space in June of 2015.

“We are delighted that one of our existing tenants of the tower recognizes the benefits of extending its footprint,” said Giovanni Cordoves, senior vice president for KBS.

In August of 2015, law firm Best & Flanagan, LLP will move its 100 employees from its current location in the Capella Tower at 225 S. Sixth St. in Minneapolis to 28,000 square feet on the 26th and 27th floors of the RBC Plaza tower.

New tenants of the building include law firms Hessian McKasy and Norton Rose Fullbright. Other new tenants are financial and legal advisory firm eggen, PLLC; Hillcrest Capital, a private equity firm; Isles Ranch Partners, an investment management firm; Joern, Samaha & Associates, a financial planner; and Windstream, a network communications company.

Retailers The Fresh Market, Sprout and Subway will soon open in the building’s renovated street and skyway levels.

Dusil said that part of what attracted these tenants is the new amenity package now part of RBC Plaza. Adding these amenities was one of the reasons for the renovations here, she said.

“Historically, the RBC Plaza hasn’t offered a tenant amenity package,” Dusil said. “We needed to add that. The challenge was in taking Gabiidae II, a former retail mall, and RBC Tower, a historically well-occupied Class-A boutique office tower, and combining them. We enhanced the building’s draw by doing that and adding the amenities package.”

Dusil said that she is thrilled with the results. She is also excited about the activity taking place on the north end of Nicollet Mall, and expects to see even more tenants seek space in RBC Plaza so that they, too, can take advantage of the amenities now in the area.

“Before, the pull was more on the south end of the mall,” Dusil said. “There was the new Target there and Target’s headquarters. That is changing. Now the pull and activity is on the north end of the mall. The North Loop and Warehouse District areas are growing and expanding neighborhoods, too. So we are adjacent to a lot of vibrant neighborhoods. You see cranes and hammers here. You see people here. This was once a much quieter corner of downtown Minneapolis. Now it is the place to be.”

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