The $350 million revamp of the former Dayton's department store debuting in downtown Minneapolis this week combines a sleek new look with nods to the iconic building's storied past.
Driving the news: The much-anticipated Dayton's Project reopens to the public Thursday after a yearslong redevelopment.
Gensler, the architecture and design firm behind the renovation, gave Axios a behind-the-scenes tour on Friday.
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What's new: The street-level space that once housed the store's cosmetics and jewelry sections has been transformed into a "maker's marketplace" with over 30 vendors.
There's more natural light and updated elements, including an LED installation that looks like the Dayton's "D," if you stand in just the right spot.
Plus: The seventh floor features a swanky lounge and outdoor patio — complete with cozy chairs, fireplaces, and a full bar — for future tenants of the upstairs office space.
What's not: The bones and many original features of the historic landmark, including some flooring, light fixtures and vintage design elements.
Part of that maker's market, for example, is housed in the former JB Hudson Jewelers space. Wrought iron doors and the wooden built-ins from the original store remain.
What they're saying: "The goal was to make it be familiar to the city," design manager Steve Bieringer told Axios.
"Everybody has a story around this building. [They] either worked here, knew someone who worked here, shopped here, did all the experiences upstairs for the holidays ... so that was really important," Bieringer said.
The big picture: The opening is a major milestone for the highly-anticipated project, which has seen more than its fair share of hurdles since New York developer 601W Cos. bought the building at 700 Nicollet Ave. in 2017.
Yes, but: It's only 10% leased so far and the developers had to secure a $250 million financing package in order to stave off an attempt by another lender to take control of the building.
Finding tenants could be complicated by the fact that the office vacancy rate is still 27% in the central business district, according to a recent Cushman & Wakefield report.
What's next: A basement-level food court is set to debut at a yet-to-be-announced date.
Final design and completion of the upper office floors — including how to incorporate historic features that must be preserved — will happen once tenants sign on.
The bottom line: After almost five years, people who work, live and visit downtown Minneapolis can finally enjoy the Dayton's building again.
But realization of the project's full vision remains a ways off.
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