by Dan Rafter
The Minnesota Timberwolves of the NBA and the Lynx of the WNBA have moved into their new training center and corporate headquarters in the center of downtown Minneapolis, the newly rejuvenated and renamed Mayo Clinic Square.
And Chris Wright, president of the Timberwolves, couldn’t be happier. He describes the training facilities of his team — which formerly trained in the nearby Target Center — as the most advanced in the entire NBA.
“This is the next generation of training facility,” Wright said. “We wanted to separate ourselves from other NBA teams. To do that, we needed a facility with a healthcare provider right next door and embedded into what is now our global headquarters. We’ve done that, and it really does elevate us from other NBA teams.”
The Timberwolves and Lynx are sharing space at the 107,000-square-foot training facility at 600 Hennepin Ave. What makes this so impressive — despite the large size of the training facility — is that the famed Mayo Clinic has opened its own clinic here, too, the 20,000-square-foot Mayo Sports Medicine Clinic.
Having the Mayo Clinic as a partner means that Timberwolves and Lynx players will receive the best treatment and rehabilitation work possible, Wright said.
“Time is your enemy in so many ways when you’re dealing with athletes and injuries,” Wright said. “If one of our players gets injured, we don’t have to send for an ambulance. We can immediately get to work on the injury right on site. It is fluid and quick. And that can make all the difference.”
A new beginning
The presence of the Timberwolves, Lynx and Mayo Clinic are all key to the future of the newly renamed Mayo Clinic Square. The two basketabll teams celebrated the grand-opening of the training facilities and their corporate offices — also located in the development — in mid June.
Having these important tenants is making Mayo Clinic Square — which officially opened late last year — a key retail destination in downtown Minneapolis.
Mayo Clinic Square was originally known as Block E. But that retail center never really succeeded. It initially attracted retail clients, but most of them gradually left the space.
That’s why Plymouth, Minnesota-based Provident Real Estate Ventures, owner of the development, decided a major renovation was needed. The $50 million renovation has resulted in Mayo Square Clinic, a decidedly more modern development that is friendlier to pedestrians.
“This is such an important development for downtown Minneapolis,” said Phillip Jaffe, chief executive officer of Provident Real Estate Ventures. “It is right in the heart of our entertainment and sports district. It’s right across the street from the Target Center. It’s a block from the Twins’ new baseball stadium. Hennepin Avenue is where all the theaters are. It’s a strategic piece of real estate.”
The original Block E had a serious flaw: Hennepin and First avenues are the two major streets that surround the development. When the development was Block E, there was no way for shoppers to get from Hennepin Avenue on the first floor to First Avenue. Shoppers had to go around the entire building to do this.
That has changed: Now that the development is Mayo Clinic Square, it’s easy for shoppers and pedestrians to circulate throughout the entire development and to get from one of the major avenues to the other, Jaffe said.
Then there’s the partnership with the pro basketball teams and the Mayo Clinic. Both bring instant credibility to Mayo Clinic Square, Jaffe said.
“This represents a new paradigm in professional basketball,” Jaffe said. “This is the gold standard with how the corporate offices, practice facilities, arena and health providers all integrate together. And getting the Mayo Clinic to come to downtown Minneapolis, to put its name on our building, is a huge plus for our development.”
The basketball teams and the Mayo Clinic fill the third and fourth floors of the development. The second floor contains office space that is available for lease, while the ground floor has about 45,000 square feet for lease. Jaffe expects primarily restaurants to fill that space.
“We are in the billboard district in downtown, so that is important for any potential tenants,” Jaffe said. “We have the only building that can offer office tenants exterior signage on the outside. We can light up our building at night. As I am recruiting office tenants, I am focusing on the tremendous branding opportunities that we can offer. Everyone will know our building because it lights up at night, any color that we want. Tenants will have great signage and branding opportunities on the side of our building.”
What office tenants will locate in Mayo Square Clinic? Jaffe says that the space won’t necessarily appeal to a 100-year-old law firm. But it will make sense for marketing firms, architecture companies and brokerages looking for a trendy space with access to plenty of parking.
“It’s all very exciting in downtown Minneapolis today,” Jaffe said. “There is so much momentum in downtown, and Mayo Clinic Square is another example of this.”