Downtown Minneapolis tower RBC Gateway already has 17 of 37 stories built
High above Hennepin Avenue, harnessed construction workers in yellow vests scrambled as a towering United Properties crane hoisted giant ceiling partitions up 17 floors, swung them overhead and inched them into place atop the growing RBC Gateway tower.
The hustle atop the burgeoning tower — one that will be home to a Four Seasons Hotel and permanently alter downtown Minneapolis’ skyline — comes as workers try to reach to the goal of building 22 stories before the end of the year.
The construction site at Hennepin and Washington avenues should reach its full 37 stories by February 2022, said Rick McKelvey, senior vice president of United Properties, the company developing the $433 million project.
After many hurdles and years of delays, the project that broke ground in June 2019 is slated to become Minneapolis’s ninth tallest building.
“We’re excited to be doing this. It’s great to be part of a landmark project,” said McKelvey.
Glass windows are already installed on the first seven floors on the east side, he said, and skyway additions are going up by Nicollet Mall and 3rd Street.
The tower will house the new headquarters of RBC Wealth Management and a 222-room Four Seasons Hotel.
More than 30 full-service condos — called the Four Seasons Private Residences — are planned for the top six floors, with commanding views of the city and the Mississippi River.
About 85% of the high-rise’s office space is already leased.
In addition to RBC, six of the Pohlad Companies — including its United Properties real estate arm, Carousel Motor Group, Pohlad Family Foundation and Pohlad Investment Group — also will move in. United Properties is in discussions to lease the remaining 80,000 square feet of office space to two prospective tenants, McKelvey said.
“Interest in this transformative project continues to be strong from prospective tenants and residents, and our community. And we anticipate continued positive forward momentum,” McKelvey said.
The historic project suffered few delays from the coronavirus pandemic, although the construction site did revamp safety protocols to protect workers, McKelvey said.
The building also has safety features worked into it. Once completed, the building will feature virus-killing air handling systems known as needlepoint bipolar ionization. The tower also will have touchless bathrooms and “Destination Dispatch” elevators that should help prevent the transmission of the coronavirus.
RBC Gateway is the largest single-building project undertaken by United Properties, which also recently developed the Nordic office building in the city’s North Loop and is codeveloping the Dayton’s Project office building in the former department store home.
United Properties owns about a 5% stake in the Dayton’s Project. In contrast, it is full-in on the RBC Gateway.
As construction progress mounts, city officials are increasingly upbeat, even as real estate development experts ponder how long the pandemic will last and keep office workers at home.
Even with concerns over coronavirus, “the RBC Gateway project is an exciting development in downtown Minneapolis,” said Hilary Dvorak, principal city planner at Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development. “The city is excited to see another development project being constructed on a former surface parking lot downtown.”
The project — being built by McGough Construction and designed by architects at Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates — joins a flurry of smaller construction projects popping up around Minneapolis, including the new eight-story Thrivent headquarters on Portland Avenue, the six story Sora apartments next door and the new Public Services Building at 504 S. 4th Ave.
Freshly sprouted offices and apartment buildings also dot Portland Avenue, Hennepin Avenue, the Mill City District and Washington Avenue.
RBC should reach its critical 22nd floor by December. It’s a key mechanical and “transition” floor because it will hold separate heating, cooling and water systems for the hotel and condos and “step back” from the thicker footprint of the lower floors.
The slimmer profile of the hotel and condo floors allows guests and condo owners to have more window lit spaces, McKelvey said.
Right now, a sales office for the Four Seasons condos is being readied near 7th Street and Nicollet Mall. Once that opens next year, condo prices will be published, officials said.
The Four Seasons hotel will take up the 23rd through 30th floors and is expected to have the city’s first five-star rating. Condos will be on the 31st through 36th floors, with the top floor reserved for mechanical systems.
The RBC Gateway project is expected to have plenty of amenities, including underground parking, street-level restaurants, a public plaza, an indoor and an outdoor pool.
Downtown boosters are delighted by the high-end development.
“It’s one of my ‘go-to’ talking points about the future of downtown being bright, despite the negative impacts we are seeing this year,” said Minneapolis Downtown Council head Steve Cramer. “Walking around the site is a day brightener to see the construction activity and workers, and the tower rising.”
Cramer called the entire project “pivotal for downtown,” because it landed the Four Seasons, helped retain a major employer in RBC, and added a “graceful linkage” to the central business district from just north of Nicollet.