Jun 7, 2021 - News
Why a big developer is so bullish on downtown Minneapolis
Rendering of a mixed-use complex in downtown Minneapolis.
Sherman Associates is pushing forward with this 21-story tower in downtown Minneapolis. Image: ESG Architecture & Design via city of Minneapolis

Don't tell Chris Sherman downtown is dead.

Driving the news: Sherman Associates, where Chris is president, broke ground over the past two weeks on two major mixed-use projects in downtown Minneapolis that will eventually bring 540 apartments and a total investment of $230 million to the city.

Why it matters: Apartment construction fell by 61% in Minneapolis between November and March, even as the broader Twin Cities pushed forward with new development.

  • The fact that Sherman Associates, its investors and lenders are betting $230 million on downtown says a lot about the future of a city that has been hampered by a loss of office workers, sporting events and entertainment.

The state of play: Sherman Associates knows the downtown market as well as anyone. It owns three buildings in the center of the city — East End, Vicinity and Encore. The company also regularly meets with other landlords to discuss how their buildings are doing.

  • Sherman said vacancies at his company's building rose to 13% last winter and the broader downtown market saw vacancies rise to 15%.
  • But thanks to the vaccine rollout and some sweet leasing deals landlords offered — like a month or two of free rent — buildings have been filling back up. Sherman's properties now have a 5% vacancy.

Details: The two projects are within three blocks of each other on the east side of downtown.

  • Moment Apartments will be a 10-story, 222-unit apartment tower at 500 S. 7th St. It'll include a day care and a center for injured fighters and burn victims. A groundbreaking was held in late May.
  • Near the corner of Washington and Portland, Sherman started construction on a new fire station. Once it's complete early next year, the company intends to begin building a 21-story, 228-unit market rate apartment tower and a seven-story, 90-unit affordable apartment building.

The bottom line: "I live downtown. I work downtown. I play downtown. And right now I see the change occurring every day as business comes back and as restaurants have more customers coming to them," Sherman told Axios.

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