What's Cooking at the Baker Center?

Jul 31, 2017

Written by Mitch Kall, CBRE

Baker Center Rendering.jpgThe Baker Center in downtown Minneapolis has been under a significant renovation for over a year, in hopes of repositioning itself as a Class A high rise in the Minneapolis market. The leasing and management team at Transwestern had its challenges to say the least.  RSP Architects, Hightower Initiatives, JE Dunn, and Gardner Builders worked with Transwestern to take the historic building from the 1920s to the modern expectations tenants have today.

Hans Okerstrom, a member of the Transwestern management team, personally toured me though Baker Center. I was impressed to see what he and his team were able to do. They completely gutted the building and added important amenities like a fitness center, roof top deck, and large open office space for tenants to enjoy. They remodeled the building by removing the old drop ceilings of the 90s and installing floor-to-ceiling windows, which show off the 10 foot ceilings that building has to offer.

The most impressive step that Transwestern took was creating a spec suite for potential tenants to look at, located on an entire 50,000 square foot open floor of the building. I was impressed that a company took this action to show the market that the Baker Center was back!

I asked Hans to explain this aggressive and unique step in the renovation process. “Baker Center was a practical location for both American Express and Wells Fargo for more than 3 decades. Existing conditions from the occupancy left behind an impression on the market that this project was obsolete and could not meet the needs of today’s office user. It was imperative to make a bold statement about what kind of design and functional opportunities existed and experience in real life, more than 50,000 square feet of finished and staged floor space. The spec suite eliminated all concerns about what may lay beneath all those years and layers of previous improvements.”

After touring the Baker Center, speaking with the Transwestern team, and researching the history of the building, I believe the renovations have exceeded its original goals set by Transwestern. It’s truly amazing to see the before and after difference created in under two years.

Next time you are walking by the corner of Marquette Avenue and South 8th Street, make sure to take a look at the 12-story glass curtain. If you have the opportunity, step inside one of the four beautifully renovated buildings to take a look for yourself. 



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Category: Industry Insights


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