After bookstore’s exit, RSM Plaza in Minneapolis undergoes renovation

Star Tribune

With the more than $10 million in work, the complex’s confusing skyway connections are streamlined and brightened.

While the fictional television offices of WJM-TV where Mary Richards used to work won’t be found in the newly renovated RSM Plaza in downtown Minneapolis, visitors will still see mod nods to the 1960s and the 1970s like retro artisan tiles and pops of blue and yellow throughout the revamped office and retail complex.

RSM Plaza, located on the corner of Nicollet Mall and 8th Street, has recently undergone a more than $10 million renovation to make dramatic changes to its skyway, lobby spaces and Nicollet Mall entry as well as an addition of an outdoor pocket park.

With the exit last year of the two-level Barnes & Noble bookstore that anchored the complex, the space has been broken up and reconfigured to add more common areas with a two-level lobby off Nicollet Mall and improved skyway connections.

“We want to make the skyway presence a destination and a feature” instead of just a “pass-through,” said Steve Sise, the senior vice president of portfolio management at Golub & Co., the Chicago-based real estate investment and development firm that owns RSM Plaza.

While the disappearance of the Barnes & Noble and reuse of some of the store’s 25,000 square feet of space for common areas means there is less leasable retail space in the complex, Sise said the bookstore’s exit was an opportunity to improve RSM Plaza.

RSM Plaza, which television viewers might recognize as the building that was used for exterior shots of the offices of WJM-TV in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” was built in 1969. The complex is made up of two towers and also includes a nearly 900-space parking ramp.

Golub & Co. in partnership with private-equity firm Oaktree Capital bought RSM Plaza in late 2015. Golub was attracted to RSM Plaza due to its central location, though it realized early on that changes needed to be made, Sise said.

After the purchase, the first phase of renovations began in 2016 and included a new fitness center, conference center and 65-stall bike room.

Last fall, work began on access improvements to RSM Plaza to remake its confusing corridors and multiple floor level changes.

“You sort of got stuck,” said Anne Smith, senior interior designer with the architecture firm Perkins+Will, which worked on the recent renovations.

The skyway from the IDS Center was reoriented so instead of going through the building’s center and down a dark escalator to the first floor, a path was created along the windowed exterior walls with an escalator created to the new lobby. Taking space that used to be part of the bookstore, the lobby was opened up to provide a new two-story glass atrium that acts as the main entrance from Nicollet Mall.

“It really gave the building a front door,” said Brent Robertson, managing director at the Twin Cities office of JLL, which is responsible for office leasing at RSM Plaza. “Before, I don’t think people knew where our main entrance was.”

Other new features in the renovation include an open skyway lounge near the parking ramp entrance, a tenant-only lounge overlooking the lobby and several soundproofed workspaces with small desks carved out of a wall on the first floor. The security desk was moved into the newly open lobby.

Elevators for the West Tower at RSM Plaza will now stop on the skyway level instead of tenants having to go to the first floor. The outdoor courtyard that used to be for Panera Bread customers has been turned into a 4,000-square-foot pocket park open to the public.

The Barnes & Noble space reconfiguration created a 11,000-square-foot space on the first floor that will be occupied by 801 Chophouse. The restaurant plans to open next fall. Space on the second floor where the bookstore was as well as new retail space along the skyway has created more than 7,600 square feet of new retail stores that Colliers International is responsible for leasing out.

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