The future of downtown office work? Time to ‘reinvent and reinvest’

16 Mar 2021


When Kris Nelson scouted out locations to launch an all-ages gym that specializes in youth training, he searched across the metro before finding a sizable, affordable skyway space in the former Macy’s Department Store building in downtown St. Paul. His gym opened in early January, right around the same time that the Midwest Reliability Organization, an energy regulatory agency, began expanding from a 3/4-floor to a full floor at nearby Infor Commons.

The 20-story Osborn370 building on Wabasha Street signed five major new leases during the heart of the pandemic, filling 22 percent more of one of downtown’s largest buildings.

Over at Wells Fargo Place, an equally curious thing happened after the pandemic forced downtown St. Paul offices to send their workers home: Three large, existing tenants all signed 10-to-15-year lease renewals for 117,000 square feet of office space. A new tenant — Hilltop Securities, an investment firm — leased 7,000 square feet. A law firm, on the other hand, downsized its space by a third, or about 1,500 square feet, after finding efficiencies in the work-from-home era.

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