From: Brooklyn Park, MN
The Minnesota Wild will be practicing their slap shots on the top floor of St. Paul’s former Macy’s department store by next fall.
Project developer Go Wild LLC announced Thursday that the Wild have signed a lease for a practice facility to be built inside the former retail property. The St. Paul Port Authority and Minneapolis-based Hempel Cos. are partners in the development company.
The Wild’s facilities will include a rooftop practice rink and a 65,000-square-foot training facility to be built two floors below grade, Hempel principal Randy McKay said during a Thursday conference call.
The rink — which will be used for Wild practices and for public ice time — will take up about 40,000 square feet on the roof of the five-story building, which is now named the Wabasha Center. The rink will be fully enclosed in space previously used for parking. The team will get to the rink via two private elevators.
The lease deal has been in the works since early this year, said Go Wild LLC spokesman Blois Olson, though the team’s interest in having a facility in the building goes back to 2015.
Port President Lee Krueger said during the conference call that the training facility will be the first in the National Hockey League to be built into a “retrofit building.” He said the development team spent significant time with Wild executives to make sure the engineering going into the entire $63 million project was adequate for the team’s facility.
“We wanted to make sure the Wild were comfortable with the structural integrity of the building,” Krueger said.
The 529,053-square-foot former Macy’s at 396 Wabasha St. is to be renovated and redeveloped into a mix of new medial office, office and retail uses, as well as the Wild practice facility and the rink. Walgreen’s has also committed to leasing in the building, Olson said. The pharmacy will occupy 23,000 square feet.
When the project is complete, Wabasha Center will offer 120,000 square feet of leasable space and 800 parking stalls, McKay said.
The NHL-standard ice rink will be available to rent to area hockey teams, figure skaters and groups when not being used by the Wild. It will be open 365 days a year, said Jamie Spencer, the Wild’s vice president of business development. The Wild’s parent company will manage the facility through its St. Paul Arena Cos. subsidiary, he said.
Wild owner Craig Leopold said the practice facility is important to the team. The Wild play home games at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul.
“A dedicated practice facility is a critical component to our team’s success, and will play a significant role in revitalizing an important asset in our city while also helping to grow the great sport of hockey,” Leopold said in the announcement.
Minneapolis-based RJM Construction has started work on the project. Interior demolition and asbestos abatement was completed last summer. The project is expected to finish in fall 2017. McKay said construction workers will begin opening up the Wabasha Street side of the building in the coming weeks. The new façade will be largely glass, he said.
The Wabasha Center name likely will not be a permanent feature of the building. Krueger said the development team is looking to sell naming rights to the building.
The Port Authority started a redevelopment push for the former Macy’s building in 2014. The store closed in 2013. Hempel came on board as the development’s majority owner in April after the Port Authority and Excelsior-based Oppidan parted ways.
My office "space" looks directly down and across at this. Thought I might be able to watch practice once it was all done, but they've made the glass façade highly reflective so you can't see inside.
Still, a damn nicer sight to look at than that decrepit old Macy's building and you certainly can't argue what the Xcel and hockey team have done to revitalize a big part of downtown St. Paul over the last 15-20 years. Seeing it continuing in Lowertown with CHS Field as well. Now they just need to work on the "leftover" area in the middle...